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Aurangzeb Alamgir r 1658–1707 the sixth Mughal emperor is widely reviled in India today Hindu hater murderer and religious zealot are just a handful of the modern caricatures of this maligned ruler While many continue to accept the storyline peddled by colonial era thinkers—that Aurangzeb a Muslim was a Hindu loathing bigot—there is an untold side to him as a man who strove to be a just worthy Indian kingIn this bold and captivating biography Audrey Truschke enters the public debate with a fresh look at the controversial Mughal emperor

10 thoughts on “Aurangzeb The Man and the Myth

  1. says:

    Aurangzeb has been cast as an unmitigated villain by the British a myth which has been enthusiastically adopted by Hindutva apologists to further their agenda of projecting Muslims as cruel bigots and ruthless killers The truth as usual is much nuancedThe casual reader and scholar alike however should be wary of what constitutes historical evidence and a legitimate historical claim Individuals that claim to present 'evidence' of Aurangzeb's supposed barbarism couched in the suspiciously modern terms of Hindu Muslim conflict often trade in falsehoods including fabricated documents and blatantly wrong translations Many who condemn Aurangzeb have no training in the discipline of history and lack even basic skills in reading premodern Persian Be sceptical of communal visions that flood the popular sphere This biography aims to deepen our remarkably thin knowledge about the historical man and king Aurangzeb AlamgirThus concludes Audrey Truschke the book under review; and we would do well to heed her words So much of what we have been taught as history have been infected by politics originally by the designs of our colonial masters then by the political outlook of the brown sahibs who took over our country from them and lastly by the strident if illogical claims of our aggressive Hindu right Unfortunately all three found it expedient to demonise Aurangzeb the British to create the myth of centuries long Hindu Muslim conflict the Congress to prove their historical role in solving that conflict and the BJP to to sustain the myth of the marauding Muslim and the tolerant and long suffering Hindu This is the myth that most of us grew up with and this is the myth which still proves remarkably resilientNo person is uni dimensional other than comic book heroes and villains This is why narratives which run counter to the popular one are important; why articles describing Gandhi's racism and Mother Theresa's religious fundamentalism need to be read though not necessarily agreed with Only when we try to look at historical personages in all their complexity shall we be able to see the past in all its multi hued glory which in turn will illuminate the presentAudrey Truschke has produced a very readable book though rather short on substance on the Emperor which does a laudable job of debunking the myth Though one expects a detailed analysis this book should serve as a starting point for any interested reader on the controversial sovereignThe charges levied against Aurangzeb are mainly two 1 he was a bloodthirsty monster who treated his enemies savagely and murdered his kin to gain the throne and 2 he was a religious bigot who relentlessly persecuted Hindus and destroyed temples The author shows that both of these charges are rooted in half truths which are dangerous than lies because they can so easily fool the gullibleAs to the first charge yes Aurangzeb did that but it was no than any other Mughal prince would do Wars of succession for a vacant throne was the norm in the dynasty There was no primogeniture the popular saying was ya takht ya tabut either the throne or the grave Although Dara Shukoh Shah Jahan's eldest and favourite son has been treated very kindly by history in the matter of suabbling for the throne he was as good or as bad as the other three; Shah Shuja Aurangzeb and Murad All four wanted the kingship and were willing to do away with their brothers Aurangzeb was the one who won outThere have been many recorded instances of Aurangzeb treating his enemies cruelly Shivaji's son Sambaji is the example which immediately comes to mind but then there are other instances when he proved lenient Again there is no evidence to prove that he was savage than any average medieval kingNow the biggest charge that of the religious bigot who systematically tried to wipe out Hinduism has to be examined Ms Truschke provides convincing evidence to illustrate that he was no bigot only a strict and pious ruler obsessed with an idea of justice Obviously he would have considered Islam the true religion and all others as false but it is clear that politics trumped faith on most occasions The author uotes Richard Eaton the leading authority on the subject to establish that the number of confirmed temple destructions is just over a dozen And many of those acts had political roots We must bear in mind that even Hindu kings sacked and pillaged the temples in rival's domain the Shaiva Vaishnava conflicts are obvious examplesThere are also ample examples of the emperor continuing the Mughal system of patronage of Hindu and Jain communities Also Aurangzeb had a number of Hindu officials under him some of whom enjoyed very high ranks Hardly to be expected of a fanatic Hindu hater However it is clear that he was no Akbar as he reimposed the Jizya tax on non Muslims even though it is very doubtful whether the order was implemented in practiceHere I must say that I do not accept what the author says without a pinch of salt I have read other believable sources notably the Malayalam author Anand who claim that Aurangzeb was fanatical than most Instead of swinging to one or other end of the pendulum we must weigh the evidence and decide for ourselvesUltimately Aurangzeb was a strong king who ruled for than five decades and who expanded the Mughal kingdom across a major part of the subcontinent Instead of a cartoon villain he was a complex character who was composed in parts of the good the bad and the indifferent much like all of usAurangzeb nonetheless defies easy summarization He was a man of studied contrasts and perplexing features Aurangzeb was preoccupied with order even fretting over the safety of the roads but found no alternative to imprisoning his father an action decried across much of Asia He did not hesitate to slaughter family members or rip apart enemies literally as was the case with Sambhaji He also sewed prayer caps by hand and professed a desire to lead a pious life he was angered by bad administrators rotten mangoes and unworthy sons He was a connoisseur of music and even fell in love with the musician Hirabai but beginning in midlife deprived himself of the pleasure of the musical arts Nonetheless he passed his later years in the company of another musician Udaipuri He built the largest mosue in the world but chose to be buried in an unmarked grave He died having expanded the Mughal kingdom to its greatest extent in history and yet feared utter failureA complex character indeed and one worthy of attention than that which has been given

  2. says:

    Short reviewOne word to describe this book SHAMEFULGenocide denial is a crime in several parts of the world But in India especially in regards to Hindu history glorifying fanatic and rabid mass murderers not only does not land you in jail but instead makes you an 'intellectual' and an 'accomplished writer' Having the privilege of white skin like Audrey Truschke makes things even easierLet me just ask a few uestionsCan you write a book glorifying Hitler in regards to his genocide of polish people jews and roma? Can you write a book glorifying Stalin in regards to his genocide of Ukranians Hungarians Romanians and Russians?The people who were decimated under the genocidal rule of such evil men can you look in the eyes of their descendants and tell them that their oppressors were 'misunderstood men'? Even worse Can you imagine selling such books to the descendants of the victims of such genocides?If yes then I seriously feel sorry for the kind of human being you are Long reviewWho was Auragzeb and what did he do in India?What ISIS did to Yezidis in Ira Aurangzeb did the same things to Hindus a million times in India There is not a single crime that he did not commit Aurangzeb was a curse on humanity he killed 46 Million Hindus for not converting to Islam and destroyed 60000 Hindu temples He levied a religious extortion tax on non muslims jaziya for refusing to convert to Islam He established Sharia law to permanently subjugate non muslims and suppress every other religion except Islam He killed his own brothers and imprisoned his father He killed his sister for being in love with a non muslim Why Talibans and other islamic terrorists of today revere aurangzeb is because he held the same kind of mindset that they have in regards to non muslims He shared the same kind of deep hatred for kaafirs that they have He pursued the same policies that they would love to pursue if they had the opportunity toThe history of Aurangzebs islamic reign was over a period of nearly fifty years spent mostly in hatred towards Hindus Terrorist aurangzeb’s rule was gory saga of loot rape killing and genocide of HindusA famous hobby of Aurangzeb was to have his Muslim armies march into newly conuered areas with severed heads of Hindus on pikes so as to 'strike fear into the heart of the infidels' Google this phrase and you will know which religious bookterrorist manual it comes from Lets take a glimpse into the kind of 'misunderstood' monster he was 1 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 gurus was taken and executed because he refused to embrace Islam2 In 1678 Raja Jaswant Singh of Marwar died The emperor tried to seize his children and have them brought up as fanatic muslims He adopted the same policy towards the young Maratha Prince Shahu Finally in 1679 he induced heavy jizya or poll tax to earn revenues from Hindus3 Dyal Das Mati Das and Sati Das as well as the Guru were brought to the open space in front of the Kotwali Mati Das and Sati das were brothers they were former Brahmins and belong to the area of Jammu instead of converting to islam favored Sikhism First of all Bhai Mati das was asked to become a Muslim He replied that Sikhism was true and Islam was false If God had favoured Islam he would have created all men circumised He was at once tied between two posts and while standing erect was sawn across from head to loins He faced the savage operation with such compusure tranuility and fortitude that Sikh theologians included his name in the daily prayers ArdasHe was tied up like a bundle with an iron chain and was put into large cauldron of bowling oil He was roasted alive into a block of charcoal Sati Das condemned the brutalities He was hacked to pieces limb by limb Jaita a Rangreta sikh of delhi collected the remains of these martyrs and consigned them to the river Yamuna flowing at a stone’s throwAccounts of Temple Destruction by Historians of AurangzebSome of the literary evidence of temple destruction during Aurangzeb’s rule is listed below1 “Mir’at i Alam” by Bakhtawar Khan Account on Temple Destruction by Terrorist AurangzebThe author was a nobleman of Aurangzeb’s court He died in AD 1684 the history ascribed to him was really compiled by Muhammad Baa of Saharanpur who gave the name of his friend as its author Baa was a prolific writer who was invited by Bakhtawar Khan to Aurangzeb’s court and given a respectable rank He died in AD 1683ExcerptsMuhiyu’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 mosues in the empire are repaired at public expense”2 “Alamgir Nama” by Mirza Muhammad Kazim Account on Temple Destruction by Terrorist AurangzebThis work written in AD 1688 contains a history of the first ten years of Aurangzeb’s reignExcerptsMuhiyu’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 conuer 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 MOSUES ”3 “Mas’ir i ‘Alamgiri” by Sai Must’ad Khan Account on Temple Destruction by Terrorist AurangzebThe 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 archivesExcerptsMuhiyu’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 acuire 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 FAMOUS AS THE DEHRA OF KESHO RAI In the short time by the great exertions of his officers the DESTRUCTION OF THIS STRONG FOUNDATION OF INFIDELITY WAS ACCOMPLISHED AND ON ITS SITE A LOFTY MOSUE WAS BUILT at the expenditure of a large sum”” 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 SET WITH COSTLY JEWELS WHIC HAD BEEN SET UP IN THE TEMPLE WERE BROUGHT TO AGRA AND BURIED UNDER THE STEPS OF THE MOSUE OF BEGUM SAHIB IN ORDER TO BE CONTINUALLY TRODDEN UPON The name of Mathura was changed to Islamabad ”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 8thSafar 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 MOSUE 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 January7th 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 MOSUE 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 MOSUES HAVE BEEN BUILT”Cruel Muslims Killing Hindus Sikhs under aurangzeb4 “Akhbarat” Account on Temple Destruction by Terrorist AurangzebThese were reports from different provinces compiled in the reign of AurangzebExcerptsMuhiyu’d Din Muhammad Aurangzeb ‘Alamgir Padshah Ghazi 1658 1707Mathura 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”This is just a tiny glimpse into the kind of monster he was I have not included his memoirs and court historians gloating records of thousands of incidents where he mass murdered hindus Those muslims who in the review section have voted this book as 5 star trust me guys the kaafir understands everything you can sugarcoat it all you want We know what we are to you Ref1 Ahmad eyamuddin ed “Patna through the Ages” New Delhi 19882 “Alberuni’s India” translated by EC Sachau New Delhi Reprint 19833 Attar Shykh Faridu’d Din “Tadhkirat al Awliya” translated into Urdu by Maulana ZA Usmani4 Bloch J “Indian Studies” London 19315 Chuvin Pierre “A Chronicle of the Last Pagans” Harvard 19906 Durrant Will “The Story of Civilization” New York 19727 Elliot and Dowson “History of India as told by its own Historians” 8 volumes Allahbad Reprint 19648 “First Encyclopedia of Islam”9 “Futuhat i Alamgiri” by Ishwardas Nagar trans into English by Tasneem Ahmad Delhi 197810 Growse FS “Mathura A District Memoir” Reprint Ahmedabad 197811 Hosain Saiyid Safdar ” The Early History of Islam” Vol I Delhi Reprint 198512 “Jami Tirmizi” Arabic text with Urdu translation by Badi’al Zaman Vol I New Delhi 198313 “Kitab Futuh Al Buldan” of Al Biladhuri translated into English by FC Murgotte New York 192414 “Maasir i Alamgiri” of Sai Must’ad Khan translated into English and annotated by Sir Jadunath Sarkar Calcutta 194715 “Makke Madine di Goshati” edited by Dr Kulwant Singh Patiala 198816 “The Rehala of Ibn Battuta” translated into English by Mahdi Hussain Baroda 197617 Sarkar Jadunath “History of Aurangzeb” 3 Volumes Calcutta 1972 73Note Audrey Truschke’s father in law Nathan Rehn owns a Maryland USA based Christian NGO Bless India Ministries Inc BIMI The BIMI’s motto as mentioned in their tax return to the Internal Revenue Service is as follows“To Spread the gospel of Jesus Christ To train people in Christian principles To help widows orphans and needy people in the name of Jesus Christ And to do all legal acts in furtherance thereof”Audrey is from bible belt of US regions which are known for their bigotry and supporting fundamentalist Christian networks Both her husband Thane Rehn and father in law belong to the fundamentalist Christian organization which wants to win India for Christ through religious conversions Having connected the dots now it becomes amply clear that Audrey Trushke is a core member of this Hindu hating soul vulture Bible club Her research thus seems to be motivated by the intentions of denigrating the last pagan stronghold in the world

  3. says:

    In this book Audrey Truschke takes up the challenge of addressing one of the most controversial figures of Indian history The book should be read in the spirit it was written as a preliminary engagementexploration of alternative understandings about Aurangzeb A historian’s task to this extent is doubly challenging identifying the source material and putting aside one’s predispositions and prejudices in the task of interpreting the sources Truschke claims she has stepped forward from earlier research read Jadunath Sarkar’s on Aurangzeb in this regardThe author attempts to understand Aurangzeb’s core values and how they informed his rule as an emperor She claims that Aurangzeb wanted “to be a just king a good Muslim and a sustainer of Mughal culture” She condones Aurangzeb’s use of violent tactics to continue his plans of an expansionist state In her words “But the uestion before us is not whether Aurangzeb was a just king Rather I want to know what Aurangzeb thought it meant to be a just Mughal king and how that shaped is world views and actions as emperor of Hindustan” P13However at a few points in the book it is hard to reconcile the author’s benign reading of Aurangzeb with her own evidence The narrative construct seems repetitive and thin The reader is left unconvinced For instance the author claims Aurangzeb extended state security to Hindu and Jain temples often than he demolished them Aurangzeb authorized targeted temple destructions and desecrations throughout his rule PP 100 101 Though Aurangzeb issued an order in 1672 recalling all endowed land grants given to Hindus and reserved all such land grants for Muslims it was not strictly enforced hence a second order was issued Truschke contends that “If strictly enforced this move would have been a significant blow to Hindu and Jain religious communities but historical evidence suggests otherwise” P105 I feel the author widely misses the point that policy stance sets the tone for public culture Policy initiatives especially in those times cannot be taken lightly The empire existed to please the emperor In the absence of appropriate checks and balances in that time and day the emperor’s inclinations would have directed and shaped political culture of the publicThe idea that Aurangzeb’s religious ideas were puritanical and that he was “pious” than his predecessors is contested in the book I wish the author would have delved deeper into the tenuous relation between religion and politics That the Mughal emperors and even the kings of the Delhi Sultanate in the earlier centuries strived to win over the religious leaders to legitimize their authority has been explored elsewhere It is this nuance that might have been explored in the book For all his ‘piety’ and stance on morality I feel Aurangzeb was not far from his predecessors in craving approval from the Ulema and privileging the role of religion in real politick Rulers of the Delhi Sultanate and early Mughal emperors were aware that they might have won over the land but the popular will and sympathies lied with the Sufi masters who were the real Kings ruling the hearts of the people I would have liked to read about Aurangzeb’s contentious relation with the Sufis of Delhi and the Deccan The author does have a good point that Aurangzeb’s piety might have been a performance for himself to redeem himself from guilt for his past actions and for others to gain credibility The conflicting personalities of Aurangzeb are laid out in Chapters 4 and 5 I wish the author would have engaged on Aurangzeb’s lack of an enduring legacy Had he consolidated his victories and built a bureaucratic apparatus to implement his idea of justice history would have remembered him as fair and impartial and not as a vindictive impulsive emperor meting out retributive justiceWe need scholars like Truschke to challenge received understanding but we also need rigorous scholarship that moves beyond conjecture and thin evidence

  4. says:

    If you care about serious objective history this book is pure rubbish The sort of cherry picking of facts that this book employs is adeuate to convince the lay reader that Aurangzeb was one of the most pious rulers to have ever walked the face of this Earth At some junctions the arguments are so wafer thin that they are laughable These perversions would undoubtedly appeal to the honorary members of the Irfan Habib fan club but they do a great disservice to history and academia I will be writing a detailed rejoinder soon but I would strongly advice against wasting your time on this book

  5. says:

    A revisionist history of Aurangzeb that tries to portray him in a different light but fails

  6. says:

    Old wine in an old bottle – that is the impression one feels after reading this small book on the last great Mughal emperor Aurangzeb Alamgir He was a controversial figure then as now All of India with the exception of a bunch of Left leaning career historians consider Aurangzeb as a tyrant who harassed and intimidated the non Muslim non Sunni subjects in untold number of ways This dislike comes out in ways than one ‘Aurangzeb ki Aulad’ progeny of Aurangzeb is an invective in India which one hurls against his opponent in the heat of the argument The administration of Delhi changed the name of Aurangzeb Road in the city to APJ Abdul Kalam Road in 2015 Just because the emperor treated his non Muslim non Sunni subjects so badly his name is revered in Pakistan and other places where jihadists exert their vicious influence The Mughals ruled over a vast empire whose population outstripped the entirety of Europe in 1600 Supplicants from European courts literally begged for trading concessions from the Mughals Aurangzeb was well known in the higher echelons of England at that time as evidenced in the heroic tragedy Aureng zebe penned by the poet laureate John Dryden in 1675 This book is by a young author who seeks to clear the myths about the legendary king and bring out the truth Wholesale whitewashing of Aurangzeb off all his heinous crimes is the outcome of this volume Audrey Truschke is assistant professor of South Asian history at Rutgers University in Newark New Jersey Her teaching and research interests focus on the cultural imperial and intellectual history of early modern and modern India c1500 present Unfortunately the primary source research of the book relies solely on printed editions and no new facts are mentioned anywhereAurangzeb was the most pious Mughal king But piety was never translated into righteousness in this cruel prince’s career The mistreatment of his own father Shah Jehan is a case in point Ya takht ya tabut either the throne or the grave was the prevailing maxim among brothers in the imperial household The successful brother – not necessarily the eldest – usually killed or blinded his siblings in the struggle for succession But extending this rationale for lusting after power to one’s own father was a trifle too much even for medieval sensibilities The Sharif of Mecca declined to recognize Aurangzeb as the proper ruler of Hindustan and refused his financial gifts for several years until Shah Jehan was dead in his son’s captivity Contrary to Islamic doctrine Aurangzeb was a staunch believer in astrology and continued to consult astrologers till the end of his life Like other princes of the era he too was fond of shapely dancers and singers Trushcke remarks about his whirlwind romance with a courtesan named Hirabai Zainabadi in Burhanpur that created ripples of palace gossip He was enthusiastic in erecting fine mausoleums for his loved ones just like other Mughal kings Aurangzeb’s first wife Dilras Banu Begum died from complications following the birth of her fifth child and the king erected a fine tomb Bibi ka Mabara at Aurangabad Locals still call it ‘Poor man’s Taj’Aurangzeb’s transition to Puritanism after 1669 is clearly noted in the book As part of his Deccan campaign the capital was shifted to the South and the king and his entourage lived in tents thereafter for the rest of his life His nomad ancestors had lived in tents and in a twist of fate the world seizer alamgir also spent his life in tents in the wilderness He tried to ensure justice to the people but corruption was widespread under the elusive uest for justice Even Abdul Wahhab the chief azi judge and hence a moral guide to the empire freely indulged in backhand dealings Truschke makes a vain attempt to praise Aurangzeb for increasing the share of Hindu nobility from 225 per cent under Akbar to 316 per cent of the total The real cause for this increase was the frantic attempt to incorporate the Maratha aristocracy into the Mughal nobility so as to co opt them in the fight against the Deccan sultanates Aurangzeb’s cruelty to Sambhaji who was Shivaji’s son and captured by Mughal troops is mentioned in the book He was forced to wear funny hats and was led into court on camels He then had Sambhaji’s eyes stabbed out with nails and later had him decapitated His body was chopped to pieces and thrown to the dogs while his head was stuffed with straw and displayed in cities throughout the Deccan p69 Aurangzeb at his typical bestThe author justifies all the wicked acts of Aurangzeb in a rather unabashed way She somewhat assumes a ‘So What?’ attitude to the emperor’s most heinous depredations He banned public festivities in the kingdom Truschke justifies it on concerns with public safety He resorted to forcible conversion of Hindus The author does not deny it but counters it with the laughable claim that some individuals found compelling reasons to adopt Islam so as to climb Mughal hierarchy and conversions made people eligible for jobs reserved for Muslims Thus she indirectly admits that there was indeed discrimination of the worst kind Aurangzeb executed several prominent members of the Shiite Mahdavi sect? No problem the Mahdavis had political ambitions He destroyed temples? No problem they acted against imperial interests He demolished Vishwanath temple at Benares in 1669 and Keshav Dev temple at Mathura in 1670? No problem this was just to punish political missteps by the temple associates Aurangzeb desecrated Ahmedabad’s Chintamani Parshwanath Jain temple? No problem the evidence is fragmentary incomplete or contradictory Aurangzeb recalled all endowed lands given to Hindus and reserved all future land grants to Muslims only? No problem this was possibly just a concession to the ulema Muslim clergy So goes the author’s justifications Trushcke’s arguments can be summarized thus – Aurangzeb could have destroyed all the temples in India He didn’t and hence you must be grateful to his generosity This is as ridiculous as positing that since Hitler could have killed all the Jews in Germany but didn’t is a valid reason the Jews must regard him as a level headed great rulerThe book devotes only a short space to Aurangzeb’s role in the scrapping of the Mughal kingdom which labored on for only 150 years after his death It is wrong to ascribe all blame on a single person but it is undeniable that the seeds of destruction was planted well within the lifetime of the last great Mughal Truschke doesn’t mention anything about the slide towards disaster Persians and Afghans robbed the country at their sweet will Warlords roamed the kingdom and often kept the royal family in hostage Mughal princesses were forced to dance without veil in front of their lustful eyes and lewd gestures Emperor Shah Alam II’s eyes were gouged out of its sockets by the bare hands of such a warlord in a fit of rage The penultimate Mughal king Akbar Shah II r1806 37 charged foreign visitors for an audience with him to make both ends meet The last one Bahadur Shah II sided against the British and ended up transported for life in Burma while his lineage was brutally cut short by the arms of the British army Thus ended the Mughal dynasty in 1857The book is a total disappointment because of the single point agenda of the author in justifying Aurangzeb by whatever means It includes a few colour paintings on the life of the emperor The book includes a good indexThe book is recommended

  7. says:

    Sheer propaganda bookIn her book writer claimed Aurangzeb wasn't an Islamist fanatic To support her claims she cited his Farman recording his donation to Mahant of Chitrakoot Balaji temple This farman was proven a forgery long ago Instead i suggest you to read Aurangzeb by Jadunath Sarkar and Shahenshah by NS Inamdar

  8. says:

    Aurangzeb Alamgir a pivotal figure in the Indian medieval past is often shrouded in the mystery of a man or a myth two visions of him feature in public discourse of India and Pakistan Aurangzeb the Bigot and Aurangzeb the Pious This book is not a biography per se but an attempt to discard the popular image of him which exists in this age; instead to understand a historical emperor in a historical sense

  9. says:

    I want back the time and money I spent on reading this rubbish This author is obsessed with Aurangzeb one of the most vile mass murderers of Indian history Its sad to see her trying to push her agenda as Indian history Authors who have no idea about what they are writing should refrain from glorifying tyrants

  10. says:

    Someone Else’s Sins Will Not Justify Your SinsThe author desperately tried to defend Aurangzeb by just saying those where common practice at that time given the opportunity Dara Shukoh would did the same Most idiotic thing she wrote that Hindu Kings also demolished Temples or other religious instituteIrony is that she wrote a line that sometimes changing facts to suit the author's tastesPeace