Tag Archives: Aurangzeb

Penning a ‘New’ Past: Revival or Reinterpretation ?

‘As the Muslims came to India, they brought with them, nothing, but, a barbaric rule; their brutal armies plundered the whole of the countryside, killed innocent people indiscriminately, spilled blood on every street, vandalised  and burned to ashes every living city and village; desecrated the worship places of every other religion, faith and school of thought, and committed a hell lot of atrocities, adopted the most oppressive form of rule possible, and all the other things they did were for no good damn reason.’

This is the image of the medieval India which dominated by the Muslim rule has been created by various forms of art and literature like books, articles, dramas, movies and TV serials and every other thing you can get your hands or eyes on. Although all these forms are indeed deadly, the worst I think are the three latter ones, for they use the medium of images which leave a lasting effect on the viewer’s mind. In most of the shows such as ‘Dharti Ka Veer Yodha-Prithviraj Chauhan’, ‘Veer Shivaji’, ‘Bharat ka Veer Putr- Maharana Pratap’ or ‘Jodha Akbar’ such an image is portrayed of the Muslim rulers that one cannot imagine of anything more brutal and atrocious than these Medieval Indian Rulers. They are shown as sinister, full of brutality, oppressing innocents, and assaulting women. On the other hand are their counterparts, who are pure, ideal for everything, who just can’t make any mistake; the flag bearers of peace and justice.

 Penning a ‘New’ Past: Revival or Reinterpretation ?

In this course to demonize the medieval Indian history, one of their favourites is the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. He is seen as an oppressive, intolerant ruler; who held extremely orthodox religious views, with no sense and interest in culture and demolished the temples. Now let us take the account of the facts. Large number of Non-Muslims were there in Aurangzeb’s court as officials and advisors. To be true, there were more Non-Muslims in his court than in Akbar’s; who according to the popular belief is considered a tolerant ruler. He demolished temples, yes he did, but not for religious purpose, but for political ones. The temple were not only the places of worship, they were also used for various socio-political purposes. The temples were used to discuss the political matter, plan strategies; the ones used for this purpose were demolished. Aurangzeb noted, that in Islamic Shariah temple discretion wasn’t permitted, He wrote in 1659 CE: “According to the Shariah [Islamic law], and the exalted creed, it has been established that ancient temples should not be torn down.”  If some temples were demolished in military campaign then many others were built and funded by the state. State made donations for temples and maths; donations were also made in the name of Brahaman priests of which still the records survive. These include the farmans of Emperor Aurangzeb from the temples of Mahakaleshwara, Ujjain, Balaji Temple, Chitrakut, Umanand Temple, Gauhati and many others. These farmans were issued between 1659 CE to 1685 CE.

In ‘Islam and Indian Culture’, Mr BN Pande refers to a farman issued by Emperor Aurangzeb on 5th Ramdan, 1071 AH. In this, 178 bighas of land was allotted to Jangams (a Shaivaite sect). It reads “… under the order of the Emperor to the effect that 178 bighas of land in pargana Banaras is allotted to Jangams to help in their maintenance. ……. so they may utilise it and may pray for the continued existence of the kingdom of the Emperor.”

Another land-grant to a Hindu religious teacher in 1098 AH by the Emperor Aurangzeb is mentioned by Mr Pande in the same book. It says “…. two plots of land measuring 58 dira ….. are lying vacant without any building and belong to Bait-ul-mal we have, therefore, granted the same to Ramjivan Gosain and his son as inam…. he should remain engaged in contemplation of God and continue to offer prayer…”

So, taking in account the facts, we realise what the actual scenario had been.

What is happening today is like penning down an altogether NEW PAST, the one which never actually existed. It isn’t revival – it is reinterpretation, the one which serves selfish interests thus revealing the foul mentality. The hour is in need to shatter the false image, so that people may get to know the realities and don’t see the other community with suspicion and hatred, allowing the society to exist in peace.

‘In this unending fabric of history, one yarn appears black and the other red, stained in ink and blood. This weaves nothing, but sad tales. . . .’

– See more at: http://www.itihaskekarigar.com/2015/11/08/penning-a-new-past-revival-or-reinterpretation/#sthash.hJL3ECnl.dpuf

Obscureness of the Hindu Nobility Under Aurangzeb; The Response of Modern Research

It’s very regretful to see the way scientific research is being sidelined nowadays and highhanded promotion of unethical and unscientific research practices in various disciplines is underway. History seems to be the most victimized one of these disciplines and is being devalued to be an instrument in the hands of the communal forces. The sixth Mughal emperor Aurangzeb continues to be targeted from various dimensions and his policies are the focal points for some Right wing cliques. Thus we see him often accused of closing the doors of official employment on the Hindus of his time, viz. Rajputs, Marathas, etc.

Obscureness of the Hindu Nobility Under Aurangzeb; The Response of Modern Research

Obscureness of the Hindu Nobility Under Aurangzeb; The Response of Modern Research

There is no reason to believe that a discussion on Aurangzeb is an attempt to take  sides with him. He had murdered two of his brothers, imprisoned his father, partly altered the religious policy of his predecessors, imposed discriminatory taxation, especially the Jizya, or poll tax on non-Muslims and destroyed some temples, notably Keshav Rai at Mathura. As against this, he continued many grants to temples, such as to those of Vrindavan. Other grants to temples or orders making concessions to them have also been published.
Foreign travelers coming to India in his reign generally drew a picture of a tolerant government rather than of a land of religious persecution. Communalists on both sides made him a figure he was not. On the one hand Muslim communalists projected him as a pious, religious zealot who wanted to rescue Islam in India by implementing the rules of Shari’th. On the other hand, Hindu communalists conceptualized him as a fanatic who wished to shift India from a Darul Harb to Darul Islam by strictly following the Shari’th and excluding the Hindus from the administrative positions.

Obscureness of the Hindu Nobility Under Aurangzeb; The Response of Modern Research

Obscureness of the Hindu Nobility Under Aurangzeb; The Response of Modern Research

But both arguments are fallacious since Aurangzeb was neither a pious one nor a fanatic, the point which is expected to be cleared by the present discussion is whether there was any change in Aurangzeb’s attitude towards the Hindu nobility, if yes, was the change in the form of increase or decrease and what could be the reasons behind it. Like all other historical discourses, the current discussion also begins with a glimpse into the historiographical background of the subject.

Though himself a critical and rational historian Sir Jathunath Sarkar, in his pioneering work A History of Aurangzeb went on to say that Aurangzeb’s religious bias and increasing lack of balance in the recruitment of Rajputs who consisted the major part of the Hindu nobility, generated a ‘Hindu Reaction’ which he could not defeat or defend and which ultimately led to the decline of the Mughal empire. Sarkar has given his view based on what sources were available at his disposal.
S.R.Sharma, who is generally counted among the biased and uncritical historians in his Religious Policy of the Mughal Emperors followed the similar argument and endeavored to illustrate the argument by bringing some quantitative rather than qualitative data which suggested a complete decline of the Hindu nobility. Sharma has given a list of 160 Hindu mansabdars of 1000 zat and above under the reign of Aurangzeb and argued that this was the same figure under his predecessor Shahjahan though the total number of mansabdars doubled. On the other hand historians like I.H.Quaishi accepted the Sarkar-Sharma hypothesis of a decline in the position of the Hindu nobility and projected this as an achievement rather than a lapse on the part of Aurangzeb.

Obscureness of the Hindu Nobility Under Aurangzeb; The Response of Modern Research

Obscureness of the Hindu Nobility Under Aurangzeb; The Response of Modern Research

However Professor M. Athar Ali, who undertook his research when more source materials became available, has come forward with a comprehensive scrutiny of the sources and a detailed survey of the Mughal nobility, which helped him to show the fallacy of the early hypotheses. He found that despite Aurangzeb’s attempts to project himself as a staunch follower of the Shari’th and his deliberate religious bias or discrimination, there was only a slight decline in the Rajput nobility. And the Hindu nobility as a whole improved tremendously that by the last phase of his rule there were more Hindus in service proportionately than under any other Mughal emperors. He also found that the slight decline in the Rajput nobility was caused not only by Aurangzeb’s religious bias but also by a number of other factors such as the political realities of the empire, its socio-economic realities and so on and so forth.
Athar Ali, in his magnificent work The Mughal Nobility Under Aurangzeb has given detailed lists of the Rajput nobility in particular and the Hindu nobility in general. As far as the Rajput nobility is concerned, communalist historians like I.H.Quraishi and S.R.Sharma have argued that in the war of succession of 1658-59 itself, Aurangzeb had raised an outcry against the Hindu or Rajput nobles and due to his orthodox mentality Rajputs were alienated. But their fabrication has been proven wrong as a detailed and critical study of the sources will show that the nobility(Hindus and Muslims) were equally divided in their support to Aurangzeb and Dara Shikoh. Of the total 124 mansabdars of 1000 zat and above who supported Aurangzeb in the war there were 9 Rajputs, whereas of the total 87 nobles of Dara, there were 22 Rajputs. But of these 22 Rajputs many of the influential ones like Mirza Raja Jai Sing of Mewar and Jaswanth Sing of Marwar were indirectly supporting or even helping Aurangzeb.
This has been well demonstrated by the recent research on the Udaipur Documents, the letter Prince Akbar wrote to his father, etc.
In short at the time of the war of succession, Aurangzeb treated the Rajputs well and made great efforts to win over their support.
Coming to the early years of Aurangzeb’s reign, that is up to 1666, the year Shahjahan died we see that Aurangzeb had been following the same policy of the time of war of succession. He treated some of the Rajputs with special considerations. Mirza Raja Jai Sing and Jaswant Sing were promoted to the highest rank of 7000/7000. Jai Sing was made the viceroy of Deccan and Jaswanth Sing was appointed as the Governor of Gujarat, the posts usually reserved for the Mughal princes. If Aurangzeb was a fanatic, he wouldn’t have done such promotions and it can be easily comprehended that rather than any religious consideration he was promoted by the concern of consolidating his position through showering of possible promotions.
But right from the second half of the 1660s an obvious change is seen in the religious policy of Aurangzeb inducing him adopting certain amount of restrictions in the recruitment and promotion of the Rajputs. Thus by the end of the first phase of Aurangzeb’s reign (1659-1678), their proportion among the nobles holding the rank of 1000 and above declined from 18.7 per cent under Shahjahan to 14.6 per cent and the old proportion was not maintained. The new religious policy had its reflection also in the way the emperor handled the question of succession to the Marwar throne and the consequent Rathor rebellion, that he tried to confine the Rajputs within their watan jagirs, without granting them any further imperial jagirs.
But here one thing should be clear that it’s utterly nonsense to argue that the Rathor rebellion was a Rajput rebellion resulting from Aurangzeb’s religious bias and attempts to destroy all the Rajput kingdoms, as is being assumed by Jathunath Sarkar. In fact only the Rathor section of the Rajputs and for a while the Sisodias had turned against Aurangzeb and the rest still supported him against the Rathors. S.R.Sharma’s argument that after the Rathor rebellion of 1678, Aurangzeb followed a special discriminative policy towards the Rajputs is also false. Indeed there was only a slight decrease of 2 per cent in the second phase of Aurangzeb’s reign as we see 12.6 per cent Rajputs of the total mansabdars of 1000 zat and above in the second phase(1679-1707) vis-a-vis the 14.6 per cent of the first phase.
However here one question remains; why did Aurangzeb  adopt a new religious policy of little bit bias and discrimination towards the Rajputs? Recent researches show that it was not due to the fanaticism of the emperor but due to the fact that he wanted to preserve his diminishing prestige. Earlier he had assumed the territorial conquests as the possible way of showing his strength but seeing almost all the conquests ended in failure he found no option other than seeking a new policy of projecting himself as an ardent follower Shari’th so that he could appease the ulema and the Muslim nobility.
Next, taking the Hindu nobility as a whole into the account one can notice that during the first phase of Aurangzeb’s reign there was 21.6 per cent of the total mansabdars of 1000 zat and above, whereas during Shahjahan’s time it was 22.4 per cent, so a slight decrease happened but again due to the aforementioned reason that the emperor put certain restrictions on the recruitment and promotions of the Rajputs who composed the majority of the Hindu nobility. In the second phase, we see that the proportion of the Hindu nobility had rose into 31 per cent, the largest figure in the Mughal history. But it doesn’t mean a change in the religious policy or attitude of the emperor since he had kept on the same policy of restricting  promotions to the Rajputs throughout the second phase.
But this was a result of the Deccan campaign when Aurangzeb was forced to recruit large number of Marathas in order to ensure their submission. Still one can’t deny the fact that despite the paucity of promotions, Rajputs in large number remained with Aurangzeb and helped him up to the last moments.
Concluding the discussion one can say that a detailed study of the new sources and evidences would suggest that there was no considerable decline in the position of the Hindu nobility in general or the Rajput nobility in particular, to the extent that Aurangzeb could be castigated for fanaticism or bigotry. Instead there was a slight change or decrease in the promotion and recruitment of the Rajputs not just because of the much acknowledged religious bias or discrimination of Aurangzeb but also as a byproduct of the economic realities such as the least possibility of further territorial expansion after the outbreak of rebellions in 1660s and the consequent necessity to satisfy the majority nobility’s demand for promotions by shutting down the minority, the Rajputs.

Penning a ‘New’ Past: Revival or Reinterpretation ?

‘As the Muslims came to India, they brought with them, nothing, but, a barbaric rule; their brutal armies plundered the whole of the countryside, killed innocent people indiscriminately, spilled blood on every street, vandalised  and burned to ashes every living city and village; desecrated the worship places of every other religion, faith and school of thought, and committed a hell lot of atrocities, adopted the most oppressive form of rule possible, and all the other things they did were for no good damn reason.’

This is the image of the medieval India which dominated by the Muslim rule has been created by various forms of art and literature like books, articles, dramas, movies and TV serials and every other thing you can get your hands or eyes on. Although all these forms are indeed deadly, the worst I think are the three latter ones, for they use the medium of images which leave a lasting effect on the viewer’s mind. In most of the shows such as ‘Dharti Ka Veer Yodha-Prithviraj Chauhan’, ‘Veer Shivaji’, ‘Bharat ka Veer Putr- Maharana Pratap’ or ‘Jodha Akbar’ such an image is portrayed of the Muslim rulers that one cannot imagine of anything more brutal and atrocious than these Medieval Indian Rulers. They are shown as sinister, full of brutality, oppressing innocents, and assaulting women. On the other hand are their counterparts, who are pure, ideal for everything, who just can’t make any mistake; the flag bearers of peace and justice.

 Penning a ‘New’ Past: Revival or Reinterpretation ?

Penning a ‘New’ Past: Revival or Reinterpretation ?

In this course to demonize the medieval Indian history, one of their favourites is the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. He is seen as an oppressive, intolerant ruler; who held extremely orthodox religious views, with no sense and interest in culture and demolished the temples. Now let us take the account of the facts. Large number of Non-Muslims were there in Aurangzeb’s court as officials and advisors. To be true, there were more Non-Muslims in his court than in Akbar’s; who according to the popular belief is considered a tolerant ruler. He demolished temples, yes he did, but not for religious purpose, but for political ones. The temple were not only the places of worship, they were also used for various socio-political purposes. The temples were used to discuss the political matter, plan strategies; the ones used for this purpose were demolished. Aurangzeb noted, that in Islamic Shariah temple discretion wasn’t permitted, He wrote in 1659 CE: “According to the Shariah [Islamic law], and the exalted creed, it has been established that ancient temples should not be torn down.”  If some temples were demolished in military campaign then many others were built and funded by the state. State made donations for temples and maths; donations were also made in the name of Brahaman priests of which still the records survive. These include the farmans of Emperor Aurangzeb from the temples of Mahakaleshwara, Ujjain, Balaji Temple, Chitrakut, Umanand Temple, Gauhati and many others. These farmans were issued between 1659 CE to 1685 CE.

In ‘Islam and Indian Culture’, Mr BN Pande refers to a farman issued by Emperor Aurangzeb on 5th Ramdan, 1071 AH. In this, 178 bighas of land was allotted to Jangams (a Shaivaite sect). It reads “… under the order of the Emperor to the effect that 178 bighas of land in pargana Banaras is allotted to Jangams to help in their maintenance. ……. so they may utilise it and may pray for the continued existence of the kingdom of the Emperor.”

Another land-grant to a Hindu religious teacher in 1098 AH by the Emperor Aurangzeb is mentioned by Mr Pande in the same book. It says “…. two plots of land measuring 58 dira ….. are lying vacant without any building and belong to Bait-ul-mal we have, therefore, granted the same to Ramjivan Gosain and his son as inam…. he should remain engaged in contemplation of God and continue to offer prayer…”

So, taking in account the facts, we realise what the actual scenario had been.

What is happening today is like penning down an altogether NEW PAST, the one which never actually existed. It isn’t revival – it is reinterpretation, the one which serves selfish interests thus revealing the foul mentality. The hour is in need to shatter the false image, so that people may get to know the realities and don’t see the other community with suspicion and hatred, allowing the society to exist in peace.

‘In this unending fabric of history, one yarn appears black and the other red, stained in ink and blood. This weaves nothing, but sad tales. . . .’

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