The uncalled for fascination with Aurangzeb

Tuesday, May 17, 2011, 1:08 IST
By Francois Gautier | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA
We all admire William Dalrymple for his writing style, knowledge of India and for making Delhi his home. Yet, his fascination for the Mughals, which already made him write the ‘The Last Mughal’ and ‘White Mughals’, is bizarre, to say the least, as the Mughals were the biggest perpetrators of human rights abuses of their time, not only against Hindus and Sikhs, but even against their own kin.
It seems Dalrymple now wants to embark upon a new book about one of India’s most controversial historical figures, Aurangzeb, whom he considers “absolutely fascinating” and “very self aware, very Shakespearean”.
Speaking about the richest Mughal emperor who also had the second-longest reign after Akbar, Dalrymple says: “By the end of it, he does becomes a monster of myths, but his final letters are full of regret and awareness about how much he destroyed of what he had inherited.”
And he adds: “What is little spoken is that he was an extremely generous donor of various ashrams and maths. Just the sheer data that can be gathered about his donations to Hindu monasteries is extraordinary…”
Now is that true? Aurangzeb (1658-1707) was neither the eldest, nor the favourite son of his father Shah Jahan. To ascend the throne, he killed his two brothers, dispatched his father to jail, and subsequently murdered him by sending him poisoned massage oil. He later imprisoned his son (in his will, he admonished: “Never trust your sons”). He was also very cruel to the Hindus, ordering temples destroyed and making sure that the idols of Hindu gods and goddesses were buried under the steps of the mosques (like the Jama Masjid in Delhi) so that future generations of Muslims will trample upon them.
Aurangzeb built a number of mosques on destroyed temples, including Kashi Vishwanath, one of the most sacred places for Hindus. Other Hindu sacred places within his reach too suffered destruction with mosques built on them. A few examples: Krishna’s birth temple in Mathura, the rebuilt Somnath temple on the coast of Gujarat, the Vishnu temple replaced with the Alamgir mosque now overlooking Benares, and the Treta-ke-Thakur temple in Ayodhya. The number of temples destroyed by Aurangzeb is counted in four, if not five, figures. Aurangzeb did not stop at destroying temples; their users were also wiped out.
Muslims suffered as much as Hindus: 90% of today’s Indian Muslims should know that their forefathers were converted by force under Aurangzeb. Even his own brother, Dara Shukoh, was executed for taking an interest in Hindu religion.
The shadow of Aurangzeb still floats upon India: in Kashmir, where 4,00,000 Hindus were made to flee their homeland. India looks like sometimes it is forsaking its Sufi inheritance and letting Aurangzeb’s spirit take hold of it. What will happen once the army goes? Aurangzeb is not only present in Kashmir, his very name still triggers passion on both sides of the Hindu and the Muslim community. Yet, one has just to go through Aurangzeb’s own firmans (edicts), which are still preserved in the Bikaner archives, to know what kind of man he was.
One is also surprised that the Sikh community, particularly the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, has kept quiet. Have they forgotten what Aurangzeb did to them?
Guru Tegh Bahadur was beheaded because he objected to Aurangzeb’s forced conversions. Aurangzeb, who had never forgiven the Sikhs for having supported his brother Dara, persecuted the Sikhs viciously. In response, Guru Gobind Singh transformed the Sikh community into a military community. Many perceive Guru Gobind Singh as no a warlord with no religious credentials; yet, he was a powerful military general who transformed the Sikhs into a militaristic society.
The Sikh community should debate whether they want to make Aurangzeb a hero or remain close to the Hindus? Why do not the Sikhs in Delhi lobby so that Aurangzeb Road in New Delhi is renamed after one of their gurus?
Indian Muslims too have to make a crucial choice: do they want Aurangzeb’s inheritance to prevail upon Islam in India, or will they invoke Dara Shukoh’s spirit and bring the greatness of Sufism back into India?
As for Dalrymple, let him dwell upon his fantasies. Western Indology is still mired in its olds prejudices and cliches, which make Aurangzeb a hero and Guru Gobind Singh or Shivaji Maharaj mere petty chieftains.

Comments

Amandeep Singh said…
I am a Sikh & I assure you that all Sikhs (including SGPC) abhor religious fanatics of all kinds. And Aurangzeb is one of the epitomes of tyranny under the garb of religion that has been sadly witnessed throughout the history of mankind.

He ordered the execution of our 9th Guru as Guru Teg Bahadur took up the cause of Kashmiri Pandits who were being forcibly converted on Aurangzeb's orders.

Aurangzeb was also responsible for the deaths, in fact martyrdom, of Guru Gobind Singh Ji's mother & 4 sons. The 2 youngest sons were barbarically executed at a tender age of 5 & 8. So, the Sikh community was directly affected by Aurangzeb's fanaticism & barbarism. And, as I said, we Sikhs abhor barbarism & fanaticism of all kinds as this is what our living Guru: Guru Granth Sahib exhorts us to do. And this is what our 10 Gurus demonstrated through various glorious & inspirational examples in the lifetimes, when their immortal soul took the form of human bodies.
RPS KOHLI Ruby said…
Regain National PRIDE by renaming Aurangzeb Road (Cruel Intolerant Tyrant) to Guru Tegh Bahadur Road (Epitome of Sacrifice for All Religions)


My Fellow Citizens,

Please do not mistake this for HATE or another attempt to rake up the past or religious bigotry. I have the fullest respect for our Muslim brothers and hold the Muslims in reverence.

As Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Founder of Art of living said “No nation can move forward, unless it squarely faces its past. The courage to remember helps us not to repeat the same mistakes and to build a better future for our children”.

So, it is necessary to regain our National Pride and make wrong things RIGHT!

I am OUTRAGED that a road where Billionaires live and a stone’s throw away from the Prime Minister’s residence; is named after one of the most tyrannical tormentor perpetrator of Intolerant Inhuman Barbaric crimes in India.

The decorated glorification is AURANGZEB ROAD. This road serves as a constant reminder of the horrors Aurangzeb perpetrated against Indians, including his own people. Emperor Aurangzeb has the following claims to his fame:

- Executed own brother Dara Shikoh for taking an interest in Hindu religion.
- Confined his father in his own palace at Agra. Killed one brother and had two other brothers, a son, and a nephew executed.
- Initiated laws, which interfered with non-Muslim worship.
- Enforced the conversion of non-Muslims to Islam with economic and political coercion. His rule significantly favoured Muslims over non-Muslims.
- Outlawed music and other performances in 1668. Both Muslims and Hindus were forbidden to sing, play musical instruments or to dance or paint or practice art.
- Ordered the destruction of non-Muslim sacred places, idols, temples; over four figures. Lord Krishna's birth temple in Mathura; the rebuilt Somnath temple on the coast of Gujarat; the Vishnu temple replaced with the Alamgir mosque now overlooking Benares; and the Treta-ka-Thakur temple in Ayodhya.
- Imposed ever-higher taxes the hated jizya, or poll tax, on non-Muslims in 1679 in order to pay for his wars.
- Non-Muslims were not permitted to keep arms or Turbans.
- Forced conversions of Kashmiri Pandits who then pleaded with 9th Sikh Guru Guru Tegh Bahadur, for help.

Guru Tegh Bahadur was MARTYRED on the orders of Aurangzeb for protecting the religious freedom of non-Muslims in Mughal India. Bhai Mati Das and Bhai Sati Das were also executed on his orders. His son the 10th Sikh Guru Guru Gobind Singh was persecuted and his whole family was martyred including his wife and four young kids apart from his close associates.
The Guidelines mandated to the State Names Authority under Delhi Government say “Names of Roads: The service rendered by the nominee to the nation and particularly to Delhi will be the major guiding principle for taking a decision.”

In the same Capital where the 9th Sikh Guru laid down his life in defiance of forced conversion of Kashmiri Pandits, the Government has named a road after the cruel Hitlerian ruler. No street is named after Hitler in the West, yet in New Delhi we have Aurangzeb Road.

I Appeal to fellow Indians who consider Guru Tegh Bahadur ji as a symbol of sacrifice for all Religions and as a MARTYR who laid down his life to save other fellow Indians, to please SIGN this petition and regain National PRIDE!

https://www.change.org/p/shri-najeeb-jung-lt-governor-delhi-regain-national-pride-by-renaming-aurangzeb-road-cruel-intolerant-tyrant-to-guru-tegh-bahadur-road-epitome-of-sacrifice-for-all-religions#

God Bless!

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