Aurangzeb (Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde)

Aurangzeb

 (Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde)

 

Aurangzeb

Aurangzeb

Just as a coin has two sides, every story has two perspectives. Just because one person says something doesn’t necessarily make it true. The ‘two sides of the same coin’ means you can’t have one without the other. Two people take a photograph. One photographs the front, the other photographs the rear. The photographs are different but that doesn’t mean that they photographed two different things. 

There’s a flipside of everything. For every story you hear, there is always another side of it. It is sure the words you hear are taken out of context. Every (dark) cloud has a silver lining but most of the people fails to mention or even notice the silver lining and tends to describe the darkness of the cloud and may sometimes exaggerate about the thunder storm and fearful lighting that never follows.

Aurangzeb (Persian: اورنگ‌زیب (full title: Al-Sultan al-Azam wal Khaqan al-Mukarram Abul Muzaffar Muhiuddin Muhammad Aurangzeb Bahadur Alamgir I, Padshah Ghazi) (November 4, 1618 – March 3, 1707), also known by his chosen Imperial title Alamgir I (Conqueror of the Universe) (Persian: عالمگیر), was the ruler of the Mughal Empire from 1658 until his death. He was the sixth Mughal ruler. His name literally means “Adorning the Crown”.

Aurangzeb ruled India for 48 years, bringing a larger area under Mughal rule than ever before. He is generally regarded as the last Great Mughal ruler. His constant wars, however, left the empire dangerously overextended, isolated from its strong Rajput allies, and with a population that (except for the orthodox Sunni Muslim minority) was resentful, if not outright rebellious, against his reign. His last twenty five years were spent fighting in the Deccan till his death in 1707.

Aurangzeb was the third son of the fifth emperor Shah Jahan and Arjumand Bānū Begum (also known as Mumtaz Mahal). After a rebellion by his father, part of Aurangzeb’s childhood was spent as a virtual hostage at his grandfather Jahangir’s court.

After Jahangir’s death in 1627, Aurangzeb returned to live with his parents. Shah Jahan followed the Mughal practice of assigning authority to his sons, and in 1634 made Aurangzeb Subahdar (governor) of the Deccan. He moved to Kirki, which in time he renamed Aurangabad. In 1637, he married Rabia Durrani. During this period the Deccan was relatively peaceful. In the Mughal court, however, Shah Jahan began to show greater and greater favouritism to his eldest son Dara Shikoh.

In 1644, Aurangzeb’s sister Jahanara Begum was accidentally burned in Agra. This event precipitated a family crisis which had political consequences. Aurangzeb suffered his father’s displeasure when he returned to Agra three weeks after the event, instead of immediately on hearing of the accident. Shah Jahan dismissed him as the governor of the Deccan. Aurangzeb later claimed (1654) that he had resigned in protest of his father favoring Dara. In 1645, he was barred from the court for seven months. Later, Shah Jahan appointed him governor of Gujarat. He performed well and was rewarded. In 1647, Shah Jahan made him governor of Balkh and Badakhshan (in modern Afghanistan and Tajikistan), replacing Aurangzeb’s ineffective brother Murad Baksh. These areas were at the time under attack from various forces. Aurangzeb’s military skill proved successful.

He was appointed governor of Multan and Sindh began a protracted military struggle against the Safavid army in an effort to capture the city of Kandahar. He failed, and fell again into his father’s disfavour.

Shah Jahan fell ill in 1657, and was widely reported to have died. With this news, the struggle for the succession began. Aurangzeb’s eldest brother, Dara Shikoh, was regarded as heir apparent, but the succession proved far from certain.

When Shah Jahan supposedly died, his second son, Shah Shuja (Mughal) declared himself emperor in Bengal. Imperial armies sent by Dara and Shah Jahan soon restrained this effort, and Shuja retreated.

In a few months, Aurangzeb’s forces surrounded Agra. Fearing for his life, Dara departed for Delhi, leaving behind Shah Jahan. The old emperor surrendered the Agra Fort to Aurangzeb’s nobles, but

  • Aurangzeb refused any meeting with his father,
  • and declared that Dara was no longer a Muslim.

Aurangzeb offered Shuja the governorship of Bengal. This move had the effect of isolating Dara and causing more troops to defect to Aurangzeb. Shuja, however, uncertain of Aurangzeb’s sincerity, continued to battle his brother, but his forces suffered a series of defeats at Aurangzeb’s hands. At length, Shuja went into exile in Arakan (in present-day Myanmar) where he disappeared, and was presumed to be dead.

With Shuja and Murad disposed of, and with his father Shah Jahan confined in Agra, Aurangzeb pursued Dara, chasing him across the north-western bounds of the empire. After a series of battles, defeats and retreats, Dara was betrayed by one of his generals, who arrested and bound him. In 1659, Aurangzeb arranged a formal coronation in Delhi.

  1. He had Dara openly marched in chains back to Delhi;
  2. when Dara finally arrived, he had his brother executed.
  3. Legends about the cruelty of this execution abound, including stories that Aurangzeb had Dara’s severed head sent to the dying Shah Jahan.

With his succession secured,

  1. Aurangzeb kept Shah Jahan under house arrest at the Agra Fort.
  2. Twice he allegedly sent poison to the ailing Shah Jahan with the Hakims treating him.
  3. On both occasions, the loyal Hakims took the cup to Shah Jahan but themselves drank the poison.
  4. It is also said that he had the window of the Agra Fort from where Shah Jahan would look at Taj Mahal, sealed.

Aurangzeb’s influence continues through the centuries.

 

  • He was the first ruler to attempt to impose Sharia law on a non-Muslim country.
  • His critics[27], decry this as intolerance, while his mostly Muslim supporters applaud him, some calling him a Caliph.
  • He engaged in nearly perpetual war, justifying the ensuing death and destruction on moral and religious grounds. He eventually succeeded in the imposition of Islamic Sharia in his realm, but alienated many constituencies, not only non-Muslims, but also Shi’ite Muslims.
  • This led to increased militancy by the Marathas, the Sikhs, and the Rajputs, who along with other territories broke from the empire after his death; it also led to disputes among Indian Muslims.
  • The destruction of Hindu temples [28] remains a dark stain onHindu-Muslim relations in India to this day.

 

Unlike his predecessors, Aurangzeb considered the royal treasury as a trust of the citizens of his empire and did not use it for personal expenses or extravagant building projects.

He left few buildings, save for a modest mausoleum for his first wife, Bibi Ka Maqbara, sometimes called the mini-Taj Mahal, in Aurangabad. He also created the Badshahi Masjid mosque (Imperial or Alamgiri Mosque) in Lahore, which was once the largest outside of Mecca. He also added a small marble mosque known as the Moti Masjid (Pearl Mosque) to the Red Fort complex in Delhi. His constant warfare, however, drove his empire to the brink of bankruptcy just as much as the wasteful personal spending and opulence of his predecessor

  1. His personal piety is undeniable.
  2. Unlike the often alcohol- and women-absorbed personal lives of his predecessors, he led an extremely simple and pious life.
  3. He followed Muslim precepts with his typical determination,
  4. and even memorized the entire Qur’an.
  5. He knitted Haj caps and copied out the Qur’an throughout his life and sold these anonymously.
  6. He used only the proceeds from these to fund his modest resting place.

He died in Ahmednagar on Friday, February 20, 1707 at the age of 88, having outlived many of his children. His modest open-air grave in Khuldabad expresses his strict and deep interpretation of Islamic beliefs.

But Noted scholar & former governor of Orissa Mr. B.N.Pandey, wrote in his book “Islam & Indian Culture” about the emperor Aurangzeb on page 41. “When I was the chairman of the Allahabad municipality (1948-53), a case of mutation (dakhil kharij) came up for my consideration. It was a dispute over the property dedicated to the temple of Someshwar Nath Mahadev.after the death of the mahant, there were two claimants for the property.

One of the claimants file some documents which were in the possession of the family.

The documents were the Farmans (orders) issued by emperor Aurangzeb. Aurangzeb conferred a jagir and a cash gift on the temple. I felt puzzled.

I thought that the Farmans were fake. I was wondering how Aurangzeb, who was known for the demolition of the temples, could confer a jagir on a temple with the words that “the jagir was being conferred for the puja and bhog of the deity”.

How could Aurangzeb, who identifies himself with idolatry? I felt sure that the documents were not genuine. But before coming to any conclusion, I thought it proper to take the opinion of Dr. Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru, who was a great scholar of Persian and Arabic. I laid the documents before him and asked for his opinion.

After examining the documents, Dr. Sapru said that these Farmans ofAurangzeb were genuine. Then he asked his munshi to bring the file of the case of Jangum Badi Shiva temple of Varansi, of which several appeals were pending in the Allahabad high court for the past 15 years.

The mahant of the jangum badi shiva temple was also in possession of various other Farmans of Aurangzeb granting jagir to the temple.

It was a new image of Aurangzeb appeared before me. I was very much surprised.

As advised by Dr. Sapru, I sent letters to the mahant of various important temples of India requesting them to send me Photostat copies, if they are in the possession of the Farmans of Aurangzeb, granting them jagir for their temples.

Another big surprise was in store for me. I received copies of Farmans of Aurangzeb from the great temples of mahakaleshwara, Ujjain, balaji temple, chitrakut, Umanand temple, Gauhati and the Jain temple of Shatrunjai and other temples and gurudwaras scattered over Northern India. These Farmans were issued from 1065AH (1659) to 1091AH (1685).

Though these are only a few instances of Aurangzeb generous attitude towards Hindus and their temples, they are enough to show that what the historians have written about him was biased and is only one side of the picture. India is a vast land with thousands of temples scattered all over.

If proper research is made, I am confident; many more instances would come to light which will show Aurangzeb’s benevolent treatment of non-Muslims.” 

Singhal, Damodar Prasad(2003). A History of the Indian People. Cosmo (Publications, India); New Ed edition. ISBN 8170200148.

According to the famous Tabaliq preacher, who translated from the Urdu into Burmese in one of the religious speeches, 

 

  1. Aurangzeb went to inform his father Shah Jahan that his son, the grandson of  Aurangzeb had now became a hafiz that is he had memorized the entire Qur’an
  2. Shah Jahan retorted that there is nothing to joy as according to Islam the father of hafiz, Aurangzeb only is granted a place in heaven but not the grandfather.
  3. So Aurangzeb went back to his palace and tried to memorize the whole Qur’an.
  4. After he learned the whole Quaran by heart he went back and informed his father Shah Jahan that, his son Aurangzeb  had also became a hafiz to secure a place in heaven for him, Shah Jahan.

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