Archive for the ‘destruction’ Category

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.

Secular garb for Aurangzeb By A Surya Prakash

April 9, 2009

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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

WHY AN EXHIBITION ON AURANGZEB? Francois Gautier

April 9, 2009

Aurangazeb Exhibition: WHY AN EXHIBITION ON AURANGZEB?

Source: FACT India exhibition Detailed Exhibition

FACT, the Trust which I head, is doing an exhibition on ‘Aurangzeb as he was according to Moghol documents’ from 16th to 20th February in Habitat Center, New Delhi, Palm Court Gallery, from 10 AM to 9 PM.

Why an exhibition on Aurangzeb, some may ask ? Firstly, I have been a close student of Indian history and one of its most controversial figures has been Aurangzeb (1658-1707). It is true that under him the Moghol Empire reached its zenith, but Aurangzeb was a very cruel ruler ‘ some might even say monstrous. What are the facts? Aurangzeb did not just build an isolated mosque on a destroyed temple, he ordered all temples destroyed, among them the Kashi Vishvanath, one of the most sacred places of Hinduism and had mosques built on a number of cleared temples sites. All other Hindu sacred places within his reach equally suffered destruction, with mosques built on them. A few examples: Krishna’s birth temple in Mathura, the rebuilt Somnath temple on the coast of Gujurat, the Vishnu temple replaced with the Alamgir mosque now overlooking Benares and the Treta-ka-Thakur temple in Ayodhya. The number of temples destroyed by Aurangzeb is counted in 4, if not 5 figures. Aurangzeb did not stop at destroying temples, their users were also wiped-out; even his own brother, Dara Shikoh, was executed for taking an interest in Hindu religion and the Sikh Guru Tegh Bahadur was beheaded because he objected to Aurangzeb’s forced conversions.

Thus we thought we should go 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, of 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 CM to get permissions. Indeed the director of Bikaner archives told us that in 50 years, we were the first ones asking for these farhans dealing with Aurangzeb destructive deeds. Then we asked painters from Rajasthan to reproduce in the ancient Moghol style some of the edicts : the destruction of the Somnath temple, or the trampling of Hindus protesting jizya 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 the past, when we have tensions between Muslims and Hindus today’ ? There are two reasons to this exhibition. The first one 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 of their history, more recently some of the deeds they did during colonization in North Africa or how they collaborated with the Nazis during the 2d world war and handed over French Jews who died in concentration camps (French people are only coming to terms with it now).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 bitterly each other. Catholics brutally murdered thousands of Protestants in the 18th century; yet today they lived peacefully next to each other. France fought three wars with Germany in the last 150 years, yet they are great friends today.

Let then Hindus and Muslims come to terms with what happened under Aurangzeb, because Muslims suffered as much as Hindus. It was not only Shah Jahan or Dara Shikoh who were murdered, but also the forefathers of today’s Indian Muslims who have been converted at 90%. Aurangzeb was the Hitler, the Asura of Medieval India. No street is named after Hitler in the West, yet in Delhi we have the Aurangzeb road, a constant reminder of the horrors Aurangzeb perpetrated against Indians, including against his own people.

Finally, Aurangzeb is very relevant today because he thought that Sunni Islam was the purest form of his religion and he sought to impose it with ruthless efficiency – even against those of his own faith, such as his brother. Aurangzeb clamped down on the more syncretic, more tolerant Islam, of the Sufi kind, which then existed in India.But he did not fully succeed. Four centuries later, is he going to have the last word ? I remember, when I started covering Kashmir in the late seventies, that Islam had a much more open face. The Kashmir Muslim, who is also a descendant of converted Hindus, might have thought that Allah was the only true God, but he accepted his Kashmir Pandit neighbor, went to his or her marriage, ate in his or her house and the Hindu in turn went to the mosque. Women used to walk with open faces, watch TV, films. Then the shadow of Aurangzeb fell again on Kashmir and the hard-line Sunnis came from Pakistan and Afghanistan : cinemas were banned, the burqua imposed, 400.000 Kashmiri Pandits were chased out of Kashmir by violence and became refugees in their own land and the last Sufi shrine of Srhar-e- Sharif was burnt to the ground (I was there). Today the Shariat law has been voted in Kashmir, a state of democratic, secular India,UP’s Muslims have applauded, and the entire Indian Media, which went up in flames when the Government wanted Vande Mataram to be sung, kept quiet. The spirit of Aurangzeb seems to triumph.

But what we need today in India – and indeed in the world – is a Dara Shikoh, who reintroduces an Islam which, while believing in the supremacy of its Prophet, not only accepts other faiths, but is also able to see the good in each religion, study them, maybe create a synthesis. Islam needs to adapt its scriptures which were created nearly 15 centuries ago for the people and customs of these times, but which are not necessarily relevant in some of their injunctions today. Kabir, Dara Shikoh and some of the Sufi saints attempted this task, but failed. Aurangzeb knew what he was doing when he had his own brother’s head cut. And we know what we are saying when we say that this exhibition is very relevant to today’s India

May the Spirit of Dara Shikoh come back to India and bring back Islam to a more tolerant human face.
François Gautier

Aurangzeb as he was according to Mughal Records

Aurangzeb, Emperor Shah Jahan’s sixth son, was born on 24th October 1618 at Dohad in Madhya Pradesh, and wrested India’s crown from his father before the end of June 1658, after defeating his brother Prince Dara Shukoh’s armies, first at Dharmat near Ujjain (15th April 1568) and the second, led by Dara himself, at Samugarh on 29th May 1658. The War of Succession to the richest throne in the world was practically over with this victory, and Aurangzeb secured his position by making Murad, his brother and accomplice in his impetuous pursuit for power, his prisoner, by treachery, on 25th June. He had already made his old father Emperor Shah Jahan a prisoner in the Agra Fort (8th June 1658).

Shah Jahan survived his confinement by nearly eight years and the disgraceful manner of his burial (Exhibit No.5)will ever remain a stigma on this unscrupulous son Aurangzeb’s advent to the throne in his father’s life time was not welcomed by the people of India, because of the treacherous manner it was achieved; , but public opinion became all the more hostile towards him when Prince Dara Shukoh, the favourite son of Shah Jahan, the translator of the Upanishads (Exhibit No.2), and a truly liberal and enlightened Musalman, was taken prisoner on the Indian border, as he was going to Persia. Dara was paraded in a most undignified manner on the streets of Delhi on 29th August 1659. The French Doctor, Bernier, was an eye-witness to the scene and was deeply moved by the popular sympathy for Dara (Exhibit No.3) which so much alarmed Aurangzeb that he contrived to have a decree from his Clerics announcing death-sentence for his elder brother on the charge of apostasy (Exhibit No.4).

Throughout the War of Succession, Aurangzeb had maintained that he was not interested in acquiring the throne and that his only object was to ward off the threat to Islam, which was inevitable in case Dara Shukoh came to power. Many, including his brother Murad, were deceived by this posture. After his formal accession in Delhi (5th June 1659) he posed as a defender of Islam who would rule according to the directions of the Shariat, and with the advice of the Clerics or Ulama for whom the doctrines, rules, principles and directives, as laid down and interpreted in the 7th and 8th century Arabia, Persia and Iraq, were inviolable and unchangeable in all conditions, in all countries, and for all times to come.

One of the main objectives of Aurangzeb’s policy was to demolish Hindu temples. When he ordered (13th October 1666)removal of the carved railing, which Prince Dara Shukoh had presented to Keshava Rai temple at Mathura, he had observed ‘In the religionof theMusalmans it is improper even to look at a temple’, and that it was totally unbecoming of a Muslim to act like Dara Shukoh (Exhibit No.6, Akhbarat, 13th October 1666). This was followed by destruction of the famous Kalka temple in Delhi (Exhibit No.6, 7, 8, Akhbarat, 3rd and 12th September 1667).

In 1669, shortly after the death of Mirza Raja Jai Singh of Amber, a general order was issued (9th April 1669) for the demolition of temples and established schools of the Hindus throughout the empire and banning public worship (Exhibit Nos.9 & 10). Soon after this the great temple of Keshava Rai was destroyed (Jan.-Feb. 1670) (Exhibit No.12) and in its place a lofty mosque was erected. The idols, the author of Maasir-i-Alamgiri informs, were carried to Agra and buried under the steps of the mosque built by Begum Sahiba in order to be continually trodden upon, and the name of Mathura was changed to Islamabad. The painting (Exhibit No.13) is thus no fancy imagination of the artist but depicts what actually took place.

This was followed by Aurangzeb’s order to demolish the highly venerated temple of Vishwanath at Banaras (Persian text, Exhibit No.11), Keshava Rai temple (Jan.-Feb. 1670) (Persian Text, exhibit No.12 and Painting, Exhibit No.13), and of Somanatha (Exhibit No.14).To save the idol of Shri Nathji from being desecrated, the Gosain carried it to Rajputana, where Maharana Raj Singh received it formally at Sihad village, assuring the priest that Aurangzeb would have to trample over the bodies of one lakh of his brave Rajputs, before he couldeven touch the idol (Exhibit No.15)

Aurangzeb’s zeal for temple destruction became much more intense during war conditions. The opportunity to earn religious merit by demolishing hundreds of temples soon came to him in 1679 when, after the death of Maharaja Jaswant Singh of Jodhpur in the Kabul Subah, he tried to eliminate the Rathors of Marwar as a political power in Rajputana. But Maharana Raj Singh of Mewar, in line with the great traditions of his House, came out in open support of the Rathors.. This led to war with both Mewar and Marwar during which the temples built on the bank of Rana’s lake were destroyed by his orders (Exhibit No.23, Akhbarat 23rd December 1679) and also about three hundred other temples in the environs of Udaipur. (Exhibit No.25, Text), including the famous Jagannath Rai temple built at a great cost in front of the Maharana’s palace which was bravely defended by a handful of Rajputs (Exhibit Nos.20, 21).

Not only this, when Aurangzeb visited Chittor to have a view of the famous fort, he ordered the demolition of 63 temples there which included some of the finest temples of Kumbha’s time (Exhibit No.22). From Marwar (in Western Rajasthan) alone were brought several cart-loads of idols which, as per Aurangzeb’s orders, were cast in the yard of the Court and under the steps of Jama Masjid (Exhibit No.19). Such uncivilized and arrogant conduct of the Mughal Emperor alienated Hindus for ever, though they continued to be tolerant towards his creed.

In June 1681, orders, in a laconic two-liner, were given for the demolition of the highly venerated Jagannath Temple in Orissa (Exhibit No.24, Akhbarat, 1st June 1681)., Shortly afterwards, in September 1682, the famous Bindu-Madhav temple in Banaras was also demolished as per the Emperor’s orders (Exhibit No.27, Akhbarat, Julus 26, Ramzan 20). On 1st September 1681, while proceeding to the Deccan, where his rebel son Prince Akbar, escorted by Durga Das Rathore, had joined Chhatrapati Shivaji’s son, Shambhaji, thus creating a serious problem for him, Aurangzeb ordered that all the temples on the way should be destroyed. It was a comprehensive order not distinguishing between old and newly built temples (Exhibit No.26, Akhbarat, Julus 25, Ramzan 18). But in the district of Burhanpur, where there were a large number of temples with their doors closed, he preferred to keep them as such, as the Muslims were too few in number in the district. (Exhibit No.28, Akhbarat 13th October 1681). In his religious frenzy, even temples of the loyal and friendly Amber state were not spared, such as the famous temple of Jagdish at Goner near Amber (Exhibit Nos.30, Akhbarat, 28th March and 14th May 1680). In fact, his misguided ardour for temple destruction did not abate almost up to the end of his life, for as late as 1st January 1705 we find him ordering that the temple of Pandharpur be demolished and the butchers of the camp be sent to slaughter cows in the temple precincts (Akhbarat 49-7).

The number of such ruthless acts of Aurangzeb make a long list but here only a few have been mentioned, supported by evidence, mostly contemporary official records of Aurangzeb’s period and by such credible Persian sources as Maasir-i-Alamgiri.

I In obedience to the Quranic injunction, he reimposed Jizyah on the Hindus on 2nd April 1679 (Exhibit No.16), which had been abolished by Emperor Akbar in 1564, causing widespread anger and resentment among the Hindus of the country .A massive peaceful demonstration against this tax in Delhi, was ruthlessly crushed (Exhibit No.17), This hated tax involved heavy economic burden on the vast number of the poor Hindus and caused humiliation to each and every Hindu (Exhibit No.18). In the same vein, were his discriminatory measures against Hindus in the form of exemption of the Muslims from the taxes (Exhibit No.31, Akhbarat 16th April 1667) ban on atishbazi and restriction on Diwali (Exhibit No.32), replacement of Hindu officials by Muslims so that the Emperor’s prayers for the welfare of Muslims and glory of Islam, which were proving ineffective, be answered (Exhibit Nos.33, 34). He also imposed a ban on ziyarat and gathering of the Hindus at religious shrines, such as of Shitla Mata and folk Gods like Pir Pabu (Exhibit No.35, Akhbarat 16th September 1667), another ban on their travelling in Palkis, or riding elephants and Arab-Iraqi horses, as Hindus should not carry themselves with the same dignity as the Muslims! (Exhibit No.36). In the same vein came brazen attempts to convert Hindus by inducement, coercion (Exhibit No.41) or by offering Qanungoship (Exhibit No.44, 45, 46) and to honour the converts in the open Court. His personal directions were that a Hindu male be given Rs.4 and a Hindu female Rs.2 on conversion (Exhibit No.43,Akhbarat 7th April 1685). ‘Go on giving them”, Aurangzeb had ordered when it was reported to him that the Faujdar of Bithur, Shaikh Abdul Momin, had converted 150 Hindus and had given them naqd (cash) and saropas (dresses of honour) (Exhibit No.40, Akhbarat, 11th April 1667). Such display of Islamic orthodoxy by the State under Aurangzeb gave strength and purpose to the resistance movements such as of the Marathas, the Jats, the Bundelas and the Sikhs (Exhibit No.46).

On the 12th May 1666, the dignity with which Shivaji carried himself in the Mughal court and defied the Emperor’s authority, won him spontaneous admiration of the masses. Parkaldas, an official of Amber (Jaipur State) wrote in his letter dated 29th May 1666, to his Diwan. ‘Now that after coming to the Emperor’s presence Shivaji has shown such audacity and returned harsh and strong replies, the public extols him for his bravery all the more …” (Exhibit No.37).When Shivaji passed away on April 1680 at the age of 53 only, he had already carved a sufficiently large kingdom, his Swarajya, both along the western coast and some important areas in the east as well.

Aurangzeb could never pardon himself for his Intelligence in letting i escapefrom his well laid trap and wrote in his Will (Exhibit No.48)that it made him ‘to labour hard (against the Marathas) to the end of my life (as a result of it)”. He did not realize that it was his own doing: the extremely cruel manner ‘ even for those times – in which he put to death Shivaji’ son, Shambhaji (Exhibit No.38)made the Maratha king a martyr in the eyes of the masses and with that commenced the People’ War in Maharashtra and the Deccan which dug the grave of the Mughal empire.

Till the very end Aurangzeb never understood that the main pillars of the government are the affection and support of the people and not mere compliance of the religious directives originating from a foreign land in the seventh-eighth centuries.

His death after a long and ruinous reign lasting half a century, ended an eventful epoch in the history of India . He left behind a crumbling empire, a corrupt and inefficient administration, a demoralized army, a discredited government facing public bankruptcy and alienated subjects.

The reign of Aurangzeb : his treatment of the Hindus

April 9, 2009
The reign of Aurangzeb :
his treatment of the Hindus :
the Rajput revolt ;
Sivaji and the rise of the Marathas



Auranhzeb at the time of his accession. In June 1659, when Aurangzeb assumed the full honours of the imperial dignity under the title of Alamgir, conferred by his father, he was forty years of age, mature in body and mind, well skilled in affairs, both civil and military, and firmly
convinced that it was his duty to uphold his religion at any cost. The history of his reign, extending like Akbar’s over a period of nearly fifty years, may be condensed as being that of the failure of an attempt to govern a vast empire, inhabited chiefly by Hindus, on the principles of an ascetic Moslem saint.

Aurangzeb’s principles of government. Aurangzeb never flinched from the practical action logically resulting from his theory, that it was his duty as a faithful Moslem king to foster the interests of orthodox Sunni Islam, to suppress idolatry, and, as far as possible, to discourage and disown all idolaters,
heretics (including Shah Mohammedans)’ and infidels. He could not do all he would, but he did all he could to carry his principles into effect. No fear of unpopularity, no consideration of political expediency, no dread of resistance , was suffered to turn him for a moment from his religious duty as he conceived it.
The emperor Aurangzeb was a man of high intellectual powers, a brilliant writer, as his letters prove, an astute diplomatist, a soldier of undaunted courage, a skilled administrator, a just and merciful judge, a pious ascetic in his personal habits, and yet a failure.

Palliation of his fight for the throne. He crossed a river of blood to gain the throne. The best defence that can be offered for the crimes by which he won it, is that indicated in his letter reproaching his old tutor:

‘Ought you not’, he writes, ‘to have foreseen that I might at some future period be compelled to contend with my brothers, sword in hand, for the crown, and for my very existence Such, as you must well known, has been the ate of the children of almost every king of Hindutan’.

That defence, as far as it goes, is sound. If any one of his brothers had gained the prize, Auragzeb would have suffered death, and he can hardly be blamed because he preferred to inflict, rather, than suffer, death. The deposition of his father was a neccessary consequence
of the defeat of Dara Shikoh, who had already assumed the imperial authority with the assent of the aged emperor, who was then no longer fit to rule. Once the deposition had been effected, Aurangzeb spared his father’s life though sternly refusing him liberty. The brutal treatment
of Dara Shikoh, which cannot be justified, is explained by Aurangzeb’s intense hatred for all forms of religious hereby. His eldest brother, an avowed freethinker, was to him a thing accursed, and a fit object for extremest insult. Aurangzeb regarded the world from the point of view of
a Moslem ascetic, and as against the rights of orthodaxy the claims of kindered or of justice to Hindu unbelevers were nothing in his eyes. He took up the position of Philip II of spain in realtion to the people of the Netherlands. Like that monarch he was intensely suspicious, trusting neither man nor woman.
His love, although sometimes given, was seldom sought and, perhaps, never returned, except by one gradnson, prince Bedar Bakht.

Mir Jumla’s attack on Assam. In the earlier part of the reign the only wars, other than that of the sucession, which claim notice are those with Assam and Arakan. Mir jumla, the able general, who had done such good service for Aurangzeb when he was viceroy of the Deccan, and again in hunting down Shuja,
was rash enough to follow in the footsteps of Mohammed the son of Bakhtyar (ante, p. 106) and to invade Assam. Mir Jumla failed like his early predecessor, and, like him, died soon after his return (1663).

Annexation of part of Arakan by shayista khan. In the course of the same year, Aurangzeb’s uncle, Shayista khan, who had allowed himself to be surprised by the Marathasin the Deccan, was transferred to Bengal as the sucessor of Mir jumla. He governed the eastern province for about thirty years. His expulsion of the
English merchants from his territory in 1686 has been mentioned (ante,p.161). At an earlier ate (1666) he had cleared out the portuguese and other pirates who infested the rivers in the neighbourhood of Chittagong, and sent an expedition against the king of Arakan, who had abetted the evil-doers, and was compelled to cede the Chittagong territory.

Twenty years’ pece. ‘The expeditions into Assam and Arakan did not disturb the general peace of Hindustan. A profound tranquillity, broken by no rebellion of any political importance, reigned throughout Northern India for the first twenty years of Aurangzeb’s rule.’ It is true that for nearly three years (1673-5) the Afghan clans beyond the Indus gave trouble,
and during part of that time Aurangzeb in person superintended the operations of his generals, but the peace of India, as a whole, was not disturbed by skirmishing on the north-western frontier.

Aurangzeb’s history. Aurangzeb was a religious bigot, nad he reversed in every repect the wise policy of Akbar towards his Hindu subjects. In 1669, hearing that certain Brahmins were giving religious lectures at Multan and Benares, he ordered ‘all governors of provinces to destroy with a willing hand the schools and temples of the infidels’.Inconsequence,
the temple of Vishvanath at Benares was destroyed. In 1672 a Hindu religious sect called the Satnamis rebelled, and was crushed with ruthless severity. In 1675, Tegh Bahadur, the ninth of the sikh gorus (post, p.p 224-6), was taken and executed because he refused to embrace Islam. In 1678, Raja Jaswant Singh of Marwar died. The emperor tried to seize his children and have
them brought up as Moslems. He adopted the same policy towards the young Maratha Prince shahu. Finally in 1679 he revived the hated jizya or poll-tax which Akbar had ablished. By his bigotry Auragzeb rent in pieces the mighty Mogul empire, and paved the way for the British conquest of India.

Alienation of the Rajputs. After some time the rana of Mewar (Udaipur) made an honourable peace, by a treaty which contained no allusion to the odious jizya, and Raja Jaswant singh’s son was recongnized as chieftain of Marwar. The mischief, however,had been done, and Aurangzeb had wantonly thrown away his most trusty weapon, the devotion of the Rajput chivalry. During the following
struggle in the Deccan he learned the extent of his loss, but never repented of his action or swered a hair’s breadth from his principles. Notwithstanding the treaty, Rajputana was not pacified, and the greater part of the country continued in revolt until the end of the reign.

Prohibition of histories. A curious decree of the eleventh year of the reign abolished the office of imperial chronicler and forbade the publication of histories by private persons. This prohibition has caused a certain amount of indistinctness in the details and obscurity in the chronology of the greater part of Aurangzeb’s long reign. Such histories as were written secretly had to wait for
publication until the emperor’s death.

Aurangzeb and the Decan. In 1657, when called away to take part in the fight for the throne, prince Aurangzeb, then viceroy of the Deccan, that is to say of khandesh, Berar, Telingana, and Ahmadnagar, seemed to be an on the point of annexing the kingdoms of Golkonda and Bijapur and bringing the whole of the Deccan under the rule of his father. Many years elapsed before Auragzeb as emperor was able to return
to the scene of his early labours. Meantime a new power had arisen, which, rashly despised at first, became strong enough to baffle all the efforts of the imperial grand army, and to condemn the aged emperor to long-drawn years of fruitless toil, ending in lonely death, ‘without heart or help’.

The new-born Maratha power. Before taking up the story of Aurangzeb’s campaigns in the Deccan during the twenty-six years from the close of 1681 to 1707, we must go back to trace the origin of the new-born Maratha power and sketch the life of sivaji, who gave it birth. the marathas are the Hindu population of Maharashtra, the country of the western Ghats, lying to the south of the satpura hills, to the west of the warda
river, and extending southwards as far as Goa. In the thirteenth century this region had been the centre of the Yadava power (ante,p.84). Its best known towns are poona, Satara, Kolhapur, and Nasik.

Description of the Marathas. The inhabitants of the barren uplands of the Deccan, with its fierce heat and uncertain rainfall, are a frugal, manly race. ‘They are ‘,says Elphinstone , ‘small, sturdy men, well made though not hansome. They are all active, laborious, hardy, and perserving. If they have none of their indolence or their want of wordly wisdom.’ One feature of the Deccan must be particularly noted. It is intersected
by a number of mountain-ranges, and high flat topped hills rise up on all sides. These hills are easily convertible, by means of a few bastions, into forts, which are almost impregnable without the use of siege artillery. These natural strongholds played an important part in the great struggle against the Mohammedans. The Marathas would retire to them when hard pressed, and then, when the opportunity offered, they would sally forth and hang
upon their opponents’ flanks like a pack of wolves, cutting off stragglers and intercepting supplies. The Marathas were admirably adapted for these guerilla tactics.

Early life of sivaji. Sivaji, the great Maratha champion, belonged to the Bhosle family. His father Shahji was a soldier of fortune, and while he was away on distant campaigns in southern India, on behalf of the kings of Bijapur, the lad was brought up at poona under his mother Jijabai. He became inspired with the idea of freeing his country from the Mohammedan yoke. At the age of nineteen he began his career by seizing some of the hill
forts in the poona district. In 1659 the Biajpur government began to realize that the danger was serious. Afzal khan, a famous general, was sent with a large force. But he became entangled in the dense jungles between Wai and Mahableshwar, near sivaji’s fort of Pratapgarh. Here Afzal khan was tempted to a conference and cut down. His army was suddenly attacked from every side and completely annihilated. Bijapur now thought it prudent to come to terms.

Shayista Khan. The Maratha now ventured to ravage the Mogul territories, and thus provoked Aurangzeb to send his uncle, Shayista khan, to suppress him. But the Mogul commander, having allowed himself to be surprised, was transferred to Bengal, as already narrated (ante,p.208).

Auragzeb’s mistake. Other generals, including pince Muazzam, were now sent against the rebel, and after some time (1665) Raja Jai Singh of jaipur persuaded sivaji to submit and even to come to Agra to do homage. Aurangzeb enforced the court rules of etiquette on his opponent, and so incurred his undying enmity. Sivaji escaped secretly from the court, returned to the Deccan, and in February 1668 compelled Aurangzeb to reconize him as Raja.

Renewed war; death of sivaji, 1680. The war was soon renewed, and the Marathas freely plundered the imperial territories, including the rich town of Surat, all except the English factory there. In 1674 Sivaji proclaimed himself sovereign of the Deccan with royal pomp at his capital of Raigarh. He then crossed the Narbada, and levied the chauth, or fourth part of the land revenue, a species of blackmail, payment of which was supposed to protect a district from plunder.
In the south, where his father and brother had held jagirs, he occupied the fortresses of Vellore and Jinji (Gingee), and was granted additional territory by the king of Bijapur in payment for help against the Moguls. In 1680 he died at the age of fifty-three, leaving behind him a great reputation as the champion of Hinduism, the creator of a nation, and the founder of a powerful kingdom.

Civil administration. Sivaji, who had begun life as a petty chieftain, showed, as his power grew, that he knew how to govern his unruly subjects. He was a devout Hindu, and , although illeterate and unable to sign his name, was well versed in the sacred lkore dear to all Hindus. His government, accordingly, was organized on a Hindu pattern. The supreme authority under the Raja was a council of eight ministers who followed the principles of Brahmin law. Tge chief minister was called the Peshwa.
Other members of the council severally looked after various departments-finance, the army, and so forth. Maratha territory was divided into districes, each with a staff of officials, and each village had its headman (patel). Higher local officers were known as Desadhikars, Talikdars, and Subadars. The ministers usually held military commands, and left their civil duties to deputies (kabaris). The revenue settlements were made annually. Justice was in the hands panchayats.

Army and navy. The army was controlled by a commander-in-chief, below whom was a regular gradation of officers. The men were paid. At first Sivaji relied on his infantry recruited from the Western Ghats and the Konkanman who could climb like monkeys and capture the hill forts which were the seat of his power. Gradually the light cavalry became the most important Maratha arm. The horsemen preferred the lance to any other weapon. Discipline was strict. No soldier was allowed to bring a woman into the field on pain of death. In this respect
Sivaji’s force differed widely from the armies of the Moguls, and even from those of the East India Company, which were always clogged by a train of female followers. The chief object of the Maratha raids was to till the treasury; hence all plunder had to be strictly accounted for. Cows, cultivators, and women were not to be injured. A flect capable of carrying four thousand soldiers helped the operations of the coast.

Character of Sivaji. Sivaji was a born leader of men, and a real master of guerilla warfare. There can be no doubt that he rally believed himself to be born with a mission ‘to protect Brahmins and kind’, and to set his country free. He lived in a dark and cruel age, when religious feeling ran high, and admittedly his career was stained by deeds which would
be condemned in modern times. Of the death of Azal Khan it is impossible to speak with certainly, but the murder of the two Maratha chiefs, Chandrarao More and Baji Ghorpade, and the destruction of their capitals, is hard to defend. Equally cruel were the brutal tortures inflicted on teh Hindu baniyas of Surat to extract their hidden treasures. But on the whole he was a chivalrous and far-sighted man, and we may fully concur with the character given to him by Khafi Khan, the Mohammedan historian, who was certainly not biased in his favour:

‘He made it a rule that, wherever his followers went plundering, they should do no harm to mosques, the Book of God, or anyone’s women. Whenever a copy of the holy Koran cam into his hands, he treated it with respect, and gave it to some of his Mussulaman followers. When the women of any Hindu or Mohammedan were taken prisoners by his men and they had no friend to protect them, he watched over them till their relations came to buy them their liberty.’

Aurangzeb assumes command in the Deccan. At the close of 1681, a year after Sivaji’s death, Aurangzeb in person took command of the army of the Deccan, resolved to extinguish the kingdoms of Golkonda and Bijapur, to curb the insolence of the Marathas, and, if possible, to bring the whole south under Mogul rule.

His treatment of the Hindua. The emperor’;s obstinate adherence to his wrong-headed policy of annoying his Hindu subjects added immensely to the inherent difficulties of his task. The first thing he did was to issue stringent orders for the collection of the arrears of the jizya tax in the southern provinces, and in three months he compelled his officers to squeeze twenty-six thousand rupees out of Burhanpur. Insult was added to pecuniary injury by a proclamation that no Hindu should ride in apalankeen or an Arab horse without special licence.
such measures, of course, made the entire Hindu should ride in a palankeen or on an Arab horse without special licence. Such measures, of course, made the entire Hindu population the friends of his foes; but no consideration of prudence sufficed to turn Aurangzeb from his fixed policy.

The affairs of Golkonda. When he returned to the Deccan he found the government of Golkonda in confusion. The king, Abul Hasan, had abandoned himself to pleasure and ceased to take any part in public affairs, which were controlled by the representative of the emperor at his court and by two Hindu officials. Aurangzeb, who could not endure Hindu influence, sent his son, Prince Muazzam, to restore order. The prince dallied over his task, but at last attacked the city of Hyderabad, which his soldiers plundered without permission. The king took reguge in the adjoining fortress of Golkonda.
In 1685 the prince, having made peace on terms displeasing to his father, was recalled.

Annexation of Bijapur, 1686. The emperor, leaving Golkonda alone for the moment, deputed another son, prince Azam, to reduce Bijapur. He had little success, and was superseded by his ather, who took the capital in 1686 after an investment lasting more than a year. The kingdom ceased to exist, and the splendid city became the abode of desolation, as it is for the most part to this day.

Siege and annexation of Golkonda. Aurangzeb then resolved to make an end of the isster state of Golkonda, and to depose the king, who was accused of sending money to the Marathas, and allying himself with infidels. When Abul Hasan perceived that his destruction was decided on, he is said to have become a changed man, to have cast aside his evil habits and played the part of a hero. Certainly the city was put in a good state of defence, and when the siege began early in 1687, the imperial troops found that they had been set a hard task. The Marathas cut off the supplies of the besiegers, who were reduced to extremities by famine and plague.
An assault ordered by the emperor failed utterly, and it seemed as if the siege must be raised. But a traitor admitted the Mogul army, and Golkonda fell (September 1687). By these conquests and later operations the imperial commanders were able to levy tribute from Tanjore and Trichinipol;y in 1691, which date may be taken as marking the furthest southern extension of Mogul power.

Struggle with the Marathas. The two Mohammedan kingdoms had been destroyed, but the marathas remained unsubdued, and the remaining twenty years of Aurangzeb’s life were spent in the vain attempt to subdue them. The emperor never returned to the north, and wasted those weary years gaining ‘ a long series of petty victories followed by larger losses’. His armies seemed to be getting the upper hand between 1698-1701, but in the suceeding years the enemy recovered the lost ground.

Maratha method of warfare. The Marathas never, or hardly ever, risked a general engagement, but empended all their energies, like the Boers in the south African war, in cutting off supplies, intercepting convoys, and incessantly harassing the enemy. Mounted on hardy ponies, they were ablr to move with a quickness which completely baffled the imperial armies; and, so each man carried with him his simple food and belongings, they needed no transport trains.

Inefficiency of the Mogul army. The mogul forces, on the other hand, were unwideldy and almost immovable. The royal tents alone occupied a space three miles in circuit, and a contemporary traveller describes the whole camp as being ‘ a moving city containing half a million of souls’. Grant Duff sums up the situation in these words: ‘These apparently vigorous efforts of the government were unsubstantial; there was motion and bustle, without zeal or efficacy; the empire was unwidely, its system relaxed, and its officiers corrupt beyond all example.’ Success in these circumstances was impossible.

Execution of Sambhaji ; Raja Shahu. For a time the emperor’s arms had a promise of success, and Aurangzeb had the poor satisfaction of putting to death with torture Sambhaji, a son of Shivaji, in 1689. He spared the life of sivaji jonior, nicknamed Shabu (sahu), the infant son of Sambhaji, and kept his at court until his own death, when the young man was released and returned to his own dominions. He became Raja in 1708 after a contest.

Tara Bai. A few years after Sambhaji’s execution, Tara Bai, widow of Raja Rama, another son of Sivaji, had retrieved the Maratha losses, and directed the policy of devasting the imperial territories with such energy that the emperor was shut up in his camp, and his treasure was plundered almost under his eyes.

Retreat and death of Aurangzeb. The mogul army gradually crumbled to pieces, and ultimately (1706) Aurangzeb was forced to retire on Ahmadnagar, where he died at the begining of March 1707 (N.S), in the forty-ninth year of his reign and the eighty-eighth of his life. His dust lies under a plain tomb in the village of Rauza or Khuldabad near Daulatabad.

Aurangzeb’s farewell words. However severely the policy and conduct of Aurangzeb may be junged, it is impossible to refuse pity to the old man on his death-bed when he addressed his sons in these sad words:

‘I know not who I am, where I shall go , or what will happen to this sinner, full of sins. Now I will say good-bye to every one in this world and entrust every one to the care of God. My famous and auspicious sons should not quarrel among themselves and allow a general massacre of the people who are the servants of God. . . My years have gone by profitless. God has been in my heart, yet my darkened eyes have not reconginized His light. . . There is no hope for me in the future. The fever is gone, but only the skin is left. . . The army is confounded, and without heart or help, even as I am; apart from God, with no rest for the heart
yet my darkened eyes have not recognized His light. . . There is no hope for me in the future. The fever is gone, but only the skin is left. . . The army is confounded, and without heart or help, even as I am; apart from God, with no rest for the heart. . . When I have lost hope in myself, how can I hope in others? . . . You should accept my last will. It should not happen that Mussulmans be killed and the blame for their death rest upon this useless creature. . . I have greatly sinned and know not what troment awaits me. . . I have greatly sinned and know not what torment awaits me. . . I commit you and your sons to the care of God, and bid
you farewell. . . May the peace of God be upon you.’

Aurangzeb’s failure. The causes of Aurangzeb’s failure are obvious enough, and have been indicated in the course of the narrative, but it may be well to sum them up briefly. Aurangzeb acted as if he were merely the head of the Sunni sect Mohammedans, and not the protector of all the races and creeds of India. Akbar had realized the truth that the authority of the monarch of an empire inhabited chiefly by Hindus could not be lasting unless it rested on the support of all his people. During the greater part of his reign he treated all religions with impartial justice. Only in his latter days he forgot himself so far so to violate his avowed principles by
heaping insults upon Islam. Jahangir accepted and put in practice the tolerant maxims of his father, encouraging the building of Hindu temples as of chiristian churches. Shahjahan revived then old evil policy or persecution, harrying the christians and razing temples to the ground. Aurangzeb went farther, especially after 1678, when the death of Raja Jaswant Singh deprived his countrymen of their most powerful support. The emperor, then, in 1679,reimposed the wisely abolished. He carried to monstrous legths the policy of destroying the holy places of Hinduism, and may be reasonably charged with the overthrow of thousands of temples.

His measures forced all Hindus to regard him as their enemy and deprived him of the willing service of the Rajput clans. Sivaji, whom the emperor despised as a mere robber chief, was honoured by the Marathas as a hero, the champion and protector of Hinduism aginst the imperial bigot. Aurangzeb’s Sunni bigotry made him as hostile to the shah states of Bijapur and Golkonda as he was to the Hindu powers. He thus shattered the forces of Islam in the Deccan, by which the Hindu revolt of the marathas might have been held in check. The emperor’s suspious disposition, which prevented him from trusting anybody, deprived him likewise of all chance of finding trustworthy agents. He was, consequently,
ill served. His life was so prolonged that he continued to grasp the sceptre after he had lost the strength to use it with effect. His officers, corrupted by luxury, lacked the vigour of their ancestors and were incapable of honest exertion. The long-drawn-out Deccan wars exhausted a large part of the huge treasure of shahjahan, and ruined the finances of the empire. Financial ruin involved the collapse of the whole administration. The subject might be treated from many other points of view, but what has been said may suffice.

Chronology of Aurangzeb’s Reign

Deposition of Shahjahan and informal accession July 1658

Formal installation of Aurangzeb June 1659

Charter granted by charles II to the E.I Company ;
Bombay ceded by the portuguese to the English 1661

Mir Jumla’s attack on Assam 1662-3

Shayista khan surprised by the Maathas 1663

Foundation of the French Compagnie des Indes 1664

Death of shahjahan ; annexation of part of Arakan

by shayista khan 1666

Prohibition of public idolatrous worship 1669

Sivaji formally proclaimed as sovereign 1674

Revival of the jizya 1679

Death of Sivaji 1680

Rebellion of the Ranjputs and prince Akbar 1680-1

Assumption of command in the Deccan by Aurangzeb 1681-2

Annexation of Golkonda ; Greatest extension of Mogul empire 1687-91

Execution of Sambhaji, son of Sivaji 1689

Foundation of Calcutta by job Charnock 1690

United East India Company 1720-8

Retreat of Aurangzeb to Ahmadnagar 1706

Death of Aurangzeb 1707

GENEALOGY OF THE ‘GREAT MOGULS’ (Principal Names)

Amir Timur
|

Four generations

|

Babur (Zahir-ud-din Mohammed, descended from the
stock of chinghiz khan through females

|
—————————-|
| |
HUMAYUN (Nasir-ud-din Mohammed) Kamaran and two others

|
——————–
| |
Akbar (Jalal-ud-din) Mohammed Hakim Mirza
| (Ruler of Kabul)
|
——————————————-
| | |
| | |
JaHANGIR (Nur-ud-din Mohammed) Sultan Murad Sultan Daniyal
| | |
| | |
| A Son Three sons
————————————————————————-
| | | | |
Sultan Khusru Sultan Parviz SHAHJAKAN
or Khusrau (Shihab-ud-din Mohammed) Jahandar Shahryar

|
Dawar Bakhsh or Bulaki |
and two others |
|
|
|
———————————————————————-
| | | | |
Dara Shiloh
(Mohammed) Sultan Shuja AURAGZEB ALAMGIR Murad Bakhsh Several other children,
| | including two daughters,
Four sons Three sons (Mohammed Muhi-ud-din) Jahanara and Roshanara,
or Roshan Rai

Destruction of Hindu Temples by Aurangzeb By Rajiv Varma

April 9, 2009

Destruction of Hindu Temples by Aurangzeb

By Rajiv Varma


Background

Islamic literary sources provide far more extensive evidence of temple destruction by the Muslim invaders of India in medieval times. They also cover a large area, from Sinkiang and Transoxiana in the North to Tamil Nadu in the South, and from Siestan province of present day Iran in the West to Assam in the East. This vast area, which was long the cradle of hindu culture, came to be littered with the ruins of temples and monasteries, belonging to all schools of Santana Dharma – Baudhha, Jaina, Shaiva, Sakta, Vaishnava, and the rest. Archeological explorations and excavations in modern times have proved unmistakably that most of the mosques, mazars, ziarats and dargahs which were built in this area, stood on the sites of and were made from the materials of deliberately demolished Hindu monuments.

Hundreds of medieval muslim historians who flourished in India and elsewhere in the world of Islam, have written detailed accounts of what their heroes did in various parts of the extensive Hindu homeland as they were invaded one after another. It is alear from the literary evidence collected alone that all Muslim rulers destroyed or desecrated Hindu temples whenever and whereever they could. Archeological evidence from various Muslim monuments, particularly mosques and dargahs, not only confirms the literary evidence but also adds the names of some Muslim rulers whom Muslim historians have failed to credit with this pious performance.

Some of the literary evidence of temple destruction during Aurangzeb’s rule is listed below.

[Emphasis mine.]


1. “Mir’at-i-Alam” by Bakhtawar Khan

The author was a nobleman of Aurangzeb’s court. He died in AD 1684. the history ascribed to him was really compiled by Muhammad Baqa of Saharanpur who gave the name of his friend as its author. Baqa was a prolific writer who was invited by Bakhtawar Khan to Aurangzeb’s court and given a respectable rank. He died in AD 1683.

Excerpts:

Muhiyu’d-Din Muhammad Aurangzeb ‘Alamgir Padshah Ghazi (1658-1707) General Order

” …Hindu writers have been entirely excluded from holding public offices, and ALL THE WORSHIPPING PLACES OF THE INFIDELS AND GREAT TEMPLES of these infamous people HAVE BEEN THROWN DOWN AND DESTROYED in a manner which excites astonishment at the successful completion of so difficult a task. His Majesty personally teaches the sacred kalima to many infidels with success. … All mosques in the empire are repaired at public expense…”


2. “Alamgir-Nama” by Mirza Muhammad Kazim

This work, written in AD 1688 contains a history of the first ten years of Aurangzeb’s reign.

Excerpts:

Muhiyu’d-Din Muhammad Aurangzeb ‘Alamgir Padshah Ghazi (1658-1707) Palamau (Bihar)

” …In 1661 Aurangzeb in his zeal to uphold the law of Islam sent orders to his viceroy in Bihar, Daud Khan, to conquer Palamau. In the military operations that followed MANY TEMPLES WERE DESTROYED…”

Koch Bihar (Bengal)

” …Towards the end of the same year when Mir Jumla made a war on the Raja of Kuch Bihar, the MUGHALS DESTROYED MANY TEMPLES during the course of their operations. IDOLS WERE BROKEN AND SOME TEMPLES WERE CONVERTED INTO MOSQUES. …”


3. “Mas’ir-i-‘Alamgiri” by Saqi Must’ad Khan

The author completed this history in 1710 at the behest of Inayatu”llah Khan Kashmiri, Aurangzeb’s last secretary and favorite disciple in state policy and religiosity. The materials which Must’ad Khan used in this history of Aurangzeb’s reign came mostly from the State archives.

Excerpts:

Muhiyu’d-Din Muhammad Aurangzeb ‘Alamgir Padshah Ghazi (1658-1707) General Order

“…The Lord Cherisher of the faith learnt that in the provinces of Tatta, Multan, and especially at Benaras, the Brahmin misbelievers used to teach their false books in their established schools, and that admirers and students both Hindu and Muslim, used to come from great distances to these misguided men in order to acquire this vile learning. His majesty, eager to establish Islam, issues orders to the governors of all the provinces TO DEMOLISH THE SCHOOLS AND TEMPLES OF THE INFIDELS and with utmost urgency put down the teaching and the public practice of the religion of these misbelievers…”

Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh)

” …It was reported that, according to the Emperor’s command, his officers HAD DEMOLISHED THE TEMPLE OF VISHWANATH AT KASHI. …” Mathura (Uttar Pradesh)

” … During this month of Ramzan abounding in miracles, the Emperor as the promoter of justice and overthrower of mischief, as the knower of truth and destroyer of oppression, as the zephyr of the garden of victory and the reviver of the faith of the Prophet, ISSUED ORDERS FOR THE DEMOLITION OF THE TEMPLE SITUATED IN MATHURA

” …Praised be the August God of the faith of Islam, that in the auspicious reign of this DESTROYER OF INFIDELITY AND TURBULENCE, such a wonderful and seemingly impossible work was successfully accomplished. On seeing this instance of strength of the Emperor’s faith and the grandeur of his devotion to God, the proud Rajas were stifled and in amazement they stood like images facing the wall. THE IDOLS, LARGE AND SMALL

Khandela (Rajasthan)

” … Darab Khan who had been sent with a strong force to punish the Rajputs of Khandela and TO DEMOLISH THE GREAT TEMPLE OF THE PLACE, attacked on March 8th/Safar 5th, and slew the three hundred and odd men who made a bold defence, not one of them escaping alive. THE TEMPLES OF KHANDELA AND SANULA AND ALL OTHER TEMPLES IN THE NEIGHBOURHOOD WERE DEMOLISHED …”

Jodhpur (Rajasthan)

” … On 24th Rabi S. (Sunday, May 25th), Khan Jahan Bahadur came from Jodhpur, AFTER DEMOLISHING THE TEMPLES and bringing with himself some cart-loads of idols, and had audience of the Emperor, who higly praised him and ordered that the idols, which were mostly jewelled, golden, silver, bronze, copper, or stone, should be cast in the yard (jilaukhanah) of the Court AND UNDER THE STEPS OF THE JAMA MOSQUE, TO BE TRODDEN UPON…”

Udaipur (Rajasthan)

” … Ruhullah Khan and Ekkataz Khan WENT TO DEMOLISH THE GREAT TEMPLE in front of the Rana’s palace, which was one of the rarest buildings of the age and the chief cause of the destruction of the life and property of the despised worshippers. Twenty ‘machator’ Rajputs who were sitting in the Temple vowed to give up their lives; first one of them came out to fight, killed some and was them himself slain, then came out another and so on, until every one of the twenty perished, after killing a large number of the imperialists including the trusted slave Ikhlas. The Temple was found empty. THE HEWERS BROKE THE IMAGES. …”

” …On Saturday, the 24th January, 1680 (2nd Muharram), the Emperor went to view lake Udaisagar, constructed by the Rana, AND ORDERED ALL THE THREE TEMPLES ON ITS BANKS TO BE DEMOLISHED. …”

” …On the 29th January/7th Muharram, Hasan Ali Khan brought to the Emperor twenty camel-loads of tents and other things captured from the Rana’s Palace and REPORTED THAT ONE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY-TWO OTHER TEMPLES IN THE ENVIRONS OF UDAIPUR HAD BEEN DESTROYED. The Khan received the title of Bahadur Alamgirshahi…”

Amber (Rajasthan)

“… Abu Turab, who had been SENT TO DEMOLISH THE TEMPLES of AMBER, returned to the Court on Tuesday August 10th (Rajab 24th), and reported that HE HAD PULLED DOWN SIXTY-SIX TEMPLES. …”

Bijapur (Karnataka)

” … Hamiduddin Khan Bahadur WHO HAD GONE TO DEMOLISH A TEMPLE AND BUILD A MOSQUE (IN ITS PLACE) in Bijapur, having excellently carried his orders, came to court and gained praise and the post of darogha of gusulkhanah, which brought him near the Emperor’s person…”

General Text

“…LARGE NUMBERS OF PLACES OF WORSHIP OF THE INFIDELS AND GREAT TEMPLES OF THESE WICKED PEOPLE HAVE BEEN THROWN DOWN AND DESOLATED. Men who can see only the outside of things are filled with wonder at the successful accomplishment of such a seemingly difficult task. AND ON THE SITES OF THE TEMPLES LOFTY MOSQUES HAVE BEEN BUILT…”


4. “Akhbarat

These were reports from different provinces compiled in the reign of Aurangzeb.

Excerpts:

Muhiyu’d-Din Muhammad Aurangzeb ‘Alamgir Padshah Ghazi (1658-1707)

Mathura (Uttar Pradesh)

” … The emporer learning that in the temple of Keshav Rai at Mathura there was a stone railing presented by Dara Shikoh, remarked, ‘In the Muslim faith it is a sin even to look at a temple, and this Dara Shikoh had restored a railing in a temple. This fact is not creditable to the Muhammadans. REMOVE THE RAILING.’ By his order Abdun Nabi Khan (the faujdar of Mathura) REMOVED IT…”

Ujjain (Madhya Pradesh)

” … News came from Malwa that Wazir Khan had sent Gada Beg, a slave, with 400 troopers, TO DESTROY ALL TEMPLES AROUND UJJAIN… A Rawat of the place resisted and slew Gada Beg with 121 of his men…”

Aurangabad (Maharashtra)

“…… The Emperor learnt from a secret news writer of Delhi that in Jaisinghpura Bairagis used to worship idols, and that the Censor on hearing of it had gone there, arrested Sri Krishna Bairagis and taken him with 15 idols away to his house; then the Rajputs had assembled, flocked to the Censor’s house, wounded three footmen of the Censor and tried to seize the Censor himself; so that the latter set the Bairagis free and sent the copper idols to the local subahdar …”

Pandharpur (Maharashtra)

“… The Emperor, summoning Muhammad Khalil and Khidmat Rai, the darogha of hatchet-men …. ORDERED THEM TO DEMOLISH THE TEMPLE OF PANDHARPUR, and to take the butchers of the camp there AND SLAUGHTER COWS IN THE TEMPLE … It was done…”

On Way to the Deccan

” … When the war with the Rajputs was over, Aurangzeb decided to leave for the Deccan. His march seems to have been marked with A DESTRUCTION TO MANY TEMPLES on the way. On May 21, 1681, the superintendent of the labourers WAS ORDERED TO DESTROY ALL THE TEMPLES on the route…”

Lakheri ( ? – means the place is not traceable today )

” … On 27 Sept., 1681, the emperor issued orders FOR THE DESTRUCTION OF THE TEMPLES at Lakheri…”

Rasulpur( ? )

“… About this time, April 14, 1692, orders were issued to the provincial governor and the district faujdar TO DEMOLISH THE TEMPLES at Rasulpur…”

Sheogaon ( ? )

” … Sankar, a messenger, was sent TO DEMOLISH A TEMPLE near Sheogaon..”

Ajmer (Rajasthan)

“… Bijai Singh and several other Hindus were reported to be carrying on public worship of idols in a temple in the neighborhood of Ajmer. On 23 June, 1694, THE GOVERNER OF AJMER WAS ORDERED TO DESTROY THE TEMPLE and stop the public adoration of idol worship there…”

Wakenkhera ( ? )

” … The TEMPLE OF WAKENKHERA IN THE FORT WAS DEMOLISHED ON 2 MARCH, 1705. …”

Bhagwant Garh (Rajasthan)

“… The newswriter of Ranthambore REPORTED THE DESTRUCTION OF A TEMPLE IN PARGANAH BHAGWANT GARH. Gaj Singh Gor had repaired the temple and made some additions thereto…”

Malpura (Rajasthan)

” … Royal orders FOR THE DESTRUCTION OF TEMPLES IN MALPURA TODA were received and the officers were assigned for this work…”


5. “Fathiyya-i-‘Ibriyya

This is a diary of Mir Jumla’s campaigns in Kuch Bihar and Assam. “By looting,” writes Jadunath Sarkar, “the temples of the South and hunting out buried treasures, Mir Jumla amassed a vast fortune. The huge Hindu idols of copper were brought away in large numbers to be melted and cast into cannon. …”

Excerpts:

Muhiyu’d-Din Muhammad Aurangzeb ‘Alamgir Padshah Ghazi (AD 1658-1707)

Koch Bihar (Bengal)

” … Mir Jumla made his way into Kuch Bihar by an obscure and neglected highway. …. In six days the Mughal Army reached the capital (19th December) which had been deserted by the Rajah and his people in terror. The name of the town was changed to Alamgirnagar; the muslim call to prayer, so long forbidden in the city, was chanted from the lofty roof of the palace, and a mosque was built by DEMOLISHING THE PRINCIPLE TEMPLE…”


6. “Kalimat-i-Tayyibat” by ‘Inayatullah

This is a collection of letters and orders of Aurangzeb compiled by ‘Inayatullah in AD 1719 and covers the years 1699-1704 of Aurangzeb’s reign.

Muhiyu’d-Din Muhammad Aurangzeb ‘Alamgir Padshah Ghazi (AD 1658-1707)

Somnath (Gujarat)

“… The TEMPLE OF SOMNATH WAS DEMOLISHED early in my reign and idol worship (there) put down. It is not known what the state of things there is at present. If the idolators have again taken to the worship of images at the place, THEN DESTROY THE TEMPLE IN SUCH A WAY THAT NO TRACE OF THE BUILDING MAY BE LEFT, and also expel them (the worshippers) from the place. …”

Satara (Maharashtra)

“… The village of Sattara near Aurangabad was my hunting ground. Here on the top of the hill, STOOD A TEMPLE WITH AN IMAGE OF KHANDE RAI. BY GOD’S GRACE I DEMOLISHED IT, AND FORBADE THE TEMPLE DANCERS (muralis) to ply their shameful profession…”

General Observation “… THE DEMOLITION OF A TEMPLE IS POSSIBLE AT ANY TIME, as it cannot walk away from its place. …”

Sirhind (Punjab)

“… In a small village in the sarkar of Sirhind, A SIKH TEMPLE WAS DEMOLISHED AND CONVERTED INTO A MOSQUE. An imam was appointed who was subsequently killed. …”


7. “Ganj-i-Arshadi

It is a contemporary account of the destruction of Hindu temples at Varanasi in the reign of Aurangzeb.

Excerpts:

Muhiyu’d-Din Muhammad Aurangzeb ‘Alamgir Padshah Ghazi (AD 1658-1707)

Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh)

“… The infidels demolished a mosque that was under construction and wounded the artisans. When the news reached Shah Yasin, he came to Banaras from Mandyawa and collecting the Muslim weavers, DEMOLISHED THE BIG TEMPLE. A Sayyid who was an artisan by profession agreed with one Abdul Rasul to build a mosque at Banaras and accordingly the foundation was laid. Near the place there was a temple and many houses belonging to it were in the occupation of the Rajputs. The infidels decided that the construction of a mosque in the locality was not proper and that it should be razed to the ground. At night the walls of the mosque were found demolished. next day the wall was rebuilt but it was again destroyed. This happened three or four times. At last the Sayyid his himself in the corner. With the advent of night the infidels came to achieve their nefarious purpose. When Abdul Rasul gave the alarm, the infidels began to fight and the Sayyid was wounded by the Rajputs. In the meantime, the Musalman residents of the neighborhood arrived at the spot and the infidels took to their heels. The wounded muslims were taken to Shah Yasin who determined to vindicate the cause of Islam. When he came to the mosque, people collected from the neighborhood. the civil officers were outwardly inclined to side with the saint, but in reality they were afraid of the Royal displeasure on the account of the Raja, who was a courtier of the Emperor and had built the temple (near which the mosque was under construction). Shah Yasin, however, took up the sword and started for Jihad. The civil officers sent him a message that such a grave step should not be taken without the Emperor’s permission. Shah Yasin, paying no heed, sallied forth till he reached Bazar Chau Khamba through a fusillade of stones …… THE DOORS (OF TEMPLES) WERE FORCED OPEN AND THE IDOLS THROWN DOWN. THE WEAVERS AND OTHER MUSALMANS DEMOLISHED ABOUT 500 TEMPLES. They desired to destroy the temple of Beni Madho, but as lanes were barricaded, they desisted from going further….”


8. “Kalimat-i-Aurangzeb” by ‘Inayatullah

This is another compilation of letters and orders by ‘Inayatu’llah covering the years 1703-06 of Aurangzeb’s reign.

Muhiyu’d-Din Muhammad Aurangzeb ‘Alamgir Padshah Ghazi (AD 1658-1707) Maharashtra

“…The houses of this country (Maharashtra) are exceedingly strong and built solely of stone and iron. The hatchet-men of the Govt. in the course of my marching do not get sufficient strength and power (i.e. time) TO DESTROY AND RAZE THE TEMPLES OF THE INFIDELS that meet the eye on the way. You should appoint an orthodox inspector (darogha) who may afterwards DESTROY THEM AT LEISURE AND DIG UP THEIR FOUNDATIONS…”


9. “Muraq’at-i-Abu’I Hasan” by Maulana Abu’l Hasan

This is a collection of records and documents compiled by (the above named author) one of Aurangzeb’s officers in Bengal and Orissa during AD 1655-67.

Excerpts:

Muhiyu’d-Din Muhammad Aurangzeb ‘Alamgir Padshah Ghazi (AD 1658-1707)

Bengal and Orissa

“…Order issued on all faujdars of thanas, civil officers (mutasaddis), agents of jagirdars, kroris, and amlas from Katak to Medinipur on the frontier of Orissa :- The imperial paymaster Asad Khan has sent a letter written by order of the Emperor, to say, that the Emperor learning from the newsletters of the province of Orissa that at the village of Tilkuti in Medinipur a temple has been (newly) built, HAS ISSUED HIS AUGUST MANDATE FOR ITS DESTRUCTION, and THE DESTRUCTION OF ALL TEMPLES BUILT ANYWHERE IN THIS PROVINCE BY THE WORTHLESS INFIDELS. Therefore, you are commanded with extreme urgency that immediately on the receipt of this letter YOU SHOULD DESTROY THE ABOVE MENTIONED TEMPLES. EVERY IDOL-HOUSE BUILT DURING THE LAST 10 or 12 YEARS, WHETHER WITH BRICK OR CLAY, SHOULD BE DEMOLISHED WITHOUT DELAY. ALSO, DO NOT ALLOW THE CRUSHED HINDUS AND DESPICABLE INFIDELS TO REPAIR THEIR OLD TEMPLES. REPORTS OF THE DESTRUCTION OF TEMPLES SHOULD BE SENT TO THE COURT UNDER THE SEAL OF THE QAZIS and attested by PIOUS SHAIKHS…”

10. “Futuhat-i-Alamgiri” by Ishwardas Nagar

The author was a Brahman from Gujarat, born around AD 1654. Till the age of thirty he was in the service of the Chief Qazi of the empire under Aurangzeb. Later on, he took up a post under Shujat Khan, the governor of Gujarat, who appointed him Amin in the pargana of Jodhpur. His history covers almost half a century of Aurangzeb’s reign, from 1657 to 1700. There is nothing in his style which may mark him out as a Hindu.

Excerpts:

Muhiyu’d-Din Muhammad Aurangzeb ‘Alamgir Padshah Ghazi (AD 1658-1707)

Mathura (Uttar Pradesh)

” … When the imperial army was encamping at Mathura, a holy city of the Hindus, the state of affairs with regard to temples of Mathura was brought to the notice of His Majesty. Thus, HE ORDERED THE FAUJDAR OF THE CITY, ABDUL NABI KHAN, TO RAZE TO THE GROUND EVERY TEMPLE AND TO CONSTRUCT BIG MOSQUES (over their demolished sites)…”

Udaipur (Rajasthan)

“… The Emperor, within a short time, reached Udaipur AND DESTROYED THE GATE OF DEHBARI, THE PALACES OF RANA AND THE TEMPLES OF UDAIPUR. Apart from it, the trees of his gardens were also destroyed…”


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