Aurangzeb’s Rule vs. Present Rule in India
History is the root of a nation. A child feels proud when he/she learns the greatness, heroism, dedication and sacrifices by the ancestors for the cause of the country and people. This motivates the child to do something noble for the country.
On the other hand, if the same child is made to learn the reverse, like his/her ancestors were coward, deceitful, corrupt, tyrant, inhuman etc., then the same child will feel ashamed as an inheritor of such ancestors. As a result, the high values, heroism and noble aspirations of such a child will vanish; he/she will show the tendency of withdrawing from the real life struggle. Nothing good can be expected from such people who are defeated in advance. They are forced to live a life of an accused for no crime they (or their ancestors) had committed.
Almost all rulers want exactly this condition in their subjects. Because, this makes their rule unquestionable, undisturbed and long. Defeated subjects easily bow down before their rulers, hence there is no probability of resistance to their misrule.
The history of the second largest Indian community, whose ancestors ruled this country for about thousand years, is deliberately distorted by the small minority ruling class in order to serve its interest as stated above. The worst victim of this distortion are those rulers who, otherwise, would have been a most important source of inspiration and pride to all Indians including Muslims. In this list comes Emperor Alamgir or Aurangzeb at the top. Thanks to the history distortion, so much hate is accumulated against Aurangzeb that we are now in full gear to erase even the last signs of his reign here. A road in Delhi named after this Emperor has recently been renamed after the just demised scientist and former President APJ Abdul Kalam. Here more hate is stored against Aurangzeb than respect to Kalam. The question remains: whether Dr. Kalam would himself have accepted this as an honour if he would have been alive today?
What qualities a person should have in order to be an ideal ruler? These are: he will rule for the welfare of his subjects and not for his own pleasure or luxury; he will not discriminate among his subjects, etc. Let us analyse whether Aurangzeb had these qualities or not? If, he possessed these, then he was an ideal ruler, otherwise we are to accept the allegations against him as true.
The biggest allegation against Aurangzeb is that he had forcefully converted non-Muslims into Islam. According to a famous historian, Babu Nogendranath Banerjee, “Anybody has forced anyone regarding religious conversion – this allegation is completely false. If the Muslim rulers had this intention, then after a long period of Muslim rule in India, the Hindu population would never have been four times than that of the Muslims here. In Muslim rule, the Hindus and the Muslims lived with much happiness and peace for a prolonged period in the same village and same locality. On reading the imaginary tales of the completely selfish foreign historians that the Moslem kings were autocrat, cruel and religion-blind as well as based on the propaganda of some hate-monger selfish persons, those noble kings are being denounced even today. …Even the Emperor Aurangzeb, who has been labelled as anti-Hindu, had appointed a Hindu as his Prime Minister.” (Mortaza, GA (2007), Chepe Rakha Itihas, Kolkata, p.104). This testimony by a just historian and the fact of the Hindu-Muslim population ratio proves beyond doubt that no force was applied for religious conversion to Islam.
Another allegation against the Emperor is that he used to hate the Hindus to an extreme level. If it was true, then where the Emperor Akbar, who has been widely propagated as the most Hindu-loving king, had appointed only 14 Hindus in the prestigious ‘Manasabdar’ [governoers and army commanders] posts in his administration, the ‘Hindu hater’ Aurangzeb appointed 148 Hindus in the same ‘Manasabdar’ post? (Sri Sharma, Mughal Administration, p.111). In addition to this, Aurangzeb’s prime ministers were Joy Singh and Yaswant Singh. Needless to mention that both were non-Muslims. Raja Bhim Singh was appointed as a high-ranking army commander. Indra Singh and Achalaji, sons-in-law of Shivaji, were appointed as commanders of Mughal contingents, having five thousand soldiers each, which was the highest strength of a Mughal contingent. It is well known that to Aurangzeb, Shivaji was a traitor. In spite of this, Aurangzeb did not hesitate to put faith in Shivaji’s sons-in-law. Again Arjuji, a relative of Shivaji, was appointed as a commander of a Mughal contingent of two thousand soldiers. (Mortaza,op. cit., p.109]. It was not possible for an anti-Hindu person to appoint large number of Hindus in the army, the most important section of his administration, which could be used to dethrone the Emperor himself at any time. When we compare this situation with our present secular, modern and liberal Government, we find the Sachar Committee Report (2006), a Governmetn report before us. It clearly statess that the State has discriminated against the Muslims and pushed them from the top to the lowest of low.
Many Hindus were placed in the highest positions in the Aurangzeb’s administration. Some of them are Raja Rajrup, Kabir Singh, Amarnath Singh, Prem Deb Singh, Dilip Singh, Rasik Lal Korey etc. Historian Sri Sharma rightly said, “Nobody can put the dirty tag of communalism on him (Aurangzeb). The destiny of the State rested on the Hindus. Two non-Muslims were appointed in the high posts in the revenue department in his administration.” [Sri Sharma, op. cit.].
According to Ram Puniyani, a renowned contemporary thinker of our times, “It has been engraved in the common senses of the people of this country that the Muslims and the Christians are ‘Others’ and continuous efforts are on to project them as devil ones; a silent social sanction is there for continuous violent onslaught against them.” [Ram Puniyani, The Milli Gazette, 15:8, New Delhi, p.6.]. He further said, “The Muslim rulers have protected the social structure of this country. Their administration was of Hindu-Muslim mixed type. As for example, there were 34 per cent Hindu employees in the court of Aurangzeb.” [ibid, 15:16, p.11.].
What do we find today in the same country? Muslims are only 2.3 per cent in the Govt. jobs! If Aurangzeb can appoint 34 per cent Hindus in the upper posts and after that he can be branded as anti-Hindu, fundamentalist Muslim etc., then what should be the suitable adjective for those who degraded the Muslim presence in government jobs to a mere 2.3 per cent and of course even this microscopic presence is not in important posts?
Another allegation against Aurangzeb is that he introduced ‘Jizia’ tax. The matter needs a detailed discussion. Every Muslim citizen in a Muslim country is required to perform two basic duties: (1) He has to join the army and even to sacrifice his life for the sake of the country any time as the situation demands. (2) ‘Zakat’ or compulsory charity, one of the five pillars of Islam, has to be paid by every Muslim at the rate of 2.5 per cent of his annual savings above 85 gram of gold or its equivalent. The Muslim State collects this tax (Zakat) to run the administration and various welfare schemes for the public, Muslims and non-Muslims alike. But the non-Muslim citizens in the Islamic country are not required to serve in the army or pay Zakat. Non-Muslims are not required to pay Jizya if they serve in the army.
Which liberal government even in this modern age will accept that a citizen will enjoy all benefits of state services and welfare schemes etc., but will not defend the country by serving in the army or pay the tax (Zakat)? In any country, such a citizen will be labelled as disobedient and anti-national and would be punished accordingly. But the Muslim State does not do this. It only asks such citizens to pay a minimum amount of citizenship tax named ‘Jiziya’ in lieu of ‘Zakat’. Jiziya, meaning compensation, is in fact a compensation to the state for not taking part in its defence and the same tax is not required by those who enlist themselves in the army in time of need. It should also be borne in mind that not every non-Muslim has to pay ‘Jijziya’. It is applicable only to the healthy male citizens capable of military service. Elderly, children, women, priests, handicapped, beggars, insane are exempted from this tax. Professor Jadunath Sarkar wrote in his 'Mughal Administration': “Aurangzeb had withdrawn 65 types of different taxes and for that the State had to lose more than five crore rupees annually at that time. But it is a matter of lamentation that nobody had thanked him for such a welfare step, whereas an all-round hue and cry is there for this one tax only.”
In contrast, in today’s secular and liberal regimes, we astonishingly find that there is an active tendency from the part of the Government to impose the ruler’s religion and culture upon others. Sometimes in the name of ‘Gharwapsi’, sometimes dictating the food menu for others etc. Open threats are being issued to eliminate the religious identity of non-Hindus by declaring that ‘all Indians are Hindu’ or threatening to drive out of the country in case of non-obeying the dictates of the Hindu forces (e.g., Muslims are now and then being told to go to Pakistan). There are uncountable evidences of forceful collection of subscriptions from non-Hindus for the religious practices of the ruling class. Institutionalised religion is openly being practiced in the government offices, educational institutions, police stations etc., although the State is supposed to be ‘secular’. The same secular state is giving undue tax advantage to millions of Hindu households in the name of Hindu Undivided Family (HUF) which is not available to non-Hindus. We find no record of communal riots in India during the Muslim era, but today, on an average 4-5 communal riots are taking place every single day but this does not even pinch our sense of humanity.
Aurangzeb’s name is tarnished by another serious allegation that he had demolished many Hindu temples. Here is a quote, “If Aurangzeb had this intention to forcefully demolish Hindu temples to build masjids there, then probably there would have been no sign of any temple in India today. Doing such things was not even in remote consideration to him; rather Aurangzeb had made wills for many temples in Benares, Kashmir and in other parts of the country in his own handwriting. The relevant deeds of the ‘Debottar’ and ‘Brohmottar’ properties of these temples and their adjacent areas bear testimony to this even today.” [Itihas Porichoi, Hindustan Press, Kolkata, 1946]. The inscription on the historical Balaji temple or Bishnu temple situated on the northern side of Chitrakopt, Ramghat says: “Temple built by Emperor Aurangzeb”. This bears testimony to the true nature of Aurangzeb.
While spreading misinformation about Aurangzeb, his adversaries have unconsciously told a truth about him. They said that the Emperor used to obey the Holy Qur’an to its letter. That means, whatever Aurangzeb did, he did in accordance with the provisions of the Holy Qur’an. Let us quote a few relevant verses from the Holy Qur’an, “Let there be no compulsion in religion” (2:256); “Don’t say wrong about those whom they worship beside Allah” (6:108). If Aurangzeb followed the Holy Qur’an to the letter, then he must have followed these verses also. And if it is so, how he could have forcibly converted even a single Hindus into Muslim or destroyed a Hindu temple? This is because the holy Qur’an forbade him to apply force for religious conversion and also did not sanction even to utter a filthy word against non-Muslims totems or idols. It is true that Aurangzeb followed the holy Qur’an to the letter and here are the verses which forbade him to apply force to do religious conversion and guided him to do justice to other religions.
Now, let us cast a look at our present-day liberal administration. The five-hundred-year-old Babri Masjid and many other masjids and churches have been demolished under the very nose of this secular government. It is true that Aurangzeb had sanctioned military operation against one or two temples, but these were for purely political reasons as these were seats of rebellion or planning against the government.
Aurangzeb’s India was economically more strong and prosperous compared to the contemporary world. The State Aurangzeb received from his father was capable to purchase 55 British pounds for one Indian taka (rupee). Aurangzeb had strengthened that economy further. Now, our economy has become so weak that one British pound can purchase about 80 Indian rupees!
Wine, gambling and sexual licentiousness are major sources of social problems. These were forbidden in Aurangzeb’s reign. Wine consumption rate among the contemporary Indian teenagers has increased almost three times in the last few years. Gambling and sexual licentiousness have crossed all past limits. We are living in the age of sexual revolution.
Even his enemies acknowledge that Emperor Alamgir Aurangzeb led a very ordinary and pious life. He said goodbye to all types of luxury. He did not take a penny from the royal treasury for his personal or family expenditure. The Emperor earned his livelihood by copying the Holy Qur’an and stitching caps. Even the last rite of the Emperor was performed using his personal earnings as per his will. It is an unpardonable crime in our history to scandalize the noble character of such a rare personality.
The author teaches in A.J.C. Bose College, Kolkata. He may be contacted at ali.mdafsar09$gmail.com