Aurangzeb Road
Secular Love for Aurangzeb Remains Undiminished

The New Delhi Municipal Council’s (NDMC) decision to rename Aurangzeb Road in Lutyens’ Delhi as…

The New Delhi Municipal Council’s (NDMC) decision to rename Aurangzeb Road in Lutyens’ Delhi as Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam Road has evoked reactions on expected lines. Its popularity can be gauged from the fact that Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, the weathercock of public mood, supports it. Leftists and other Hindu-haters, unsurprisingly, are aghast at the mood—and they have got an opportunity to spew their nefarious theories about the Narendra Modi regime’s turpitude in particular and Indian history in general.

Savor this: Historian Sohail Hashmi, who conducts “Delhi Heritage Walks”, said, “The image of Aurangzeb as an enemy of Hindus was created by the British to divide Hindus and Muslims. Not only did he give grants to many temples, he even demolished a mosque as part of his campaign. Just by painting a signboard, you can’t change history” (The Hindu, August 30).

So Aurangzeb was a good guy, but was maligned by the British! For how long will be blame everything on them for every evil that happened before and after them?

Then there is INTACH Delhi convener A.G.K. Menon who said, “Aurangzeb was a complex character. There are instances where he ordered the destruction of temples, but there are also instances where he gave grants to build temples. To focus on one aspect is wrong.”

The aplomb with which our intellectuals lie is astonishing.

An illustration of the remains of the original Kashi Vishwanath Temple on the rear walls of the Gyanvapi Mosque in Benares, done by James Prinsep in 1822.

Let’s see what the real historians and accounts have to say about Aurangzeb, who ruled between 1658 and 1707. In his authoritative study on the sixth Mughal emperor, Jadunath Sarkar wrote: “Aurangzeb began his attach on Hinduism in an insidious manner. In the first year of his reign, in a charter granted to a priest of Benares, he avowed that his religion forbade him to allow the building of new temples, but did not enjoin the destruction of old ones” (emphasis in the original). But Aurangzeb was lying. For, as Sarkar wrote, when he was viceroy of Gujarat in 1644, “he had desecrated the recently built Hindu temple of Chintaman in Ahmadabad by killing a cow in it and then turned it into a mosque. He had at that time also demolished many other Hindu temples in the province.”

After becoming emperor, he issued an order “early in his reign in which the local officers in every town and village of Orissa from Cuttack to Midnapore were called upon to pull down all temples, including even clay huts, built during the last 10 or 12 years, and to allow no old temple to be repaired” (emphasis in the original).

In January 1670, “he sent forth commands to destroy this temple [of Keshav Rai at Mathura] altogether and to change the name of the city to Islamabad. The destruction of Hindu places of worship was one of the chief duties of theMuhtasibs as Censors of Morals who were appointed to all the sub-divisions and cities of the empire. In June 1680, the temples of Amber, the capital of the loyal State of Jaipur, were broken down.” In 1674, he confiscated all the lands held by Hindus as religious grants in Gujarat.

Leftists have dismissed Sarkar as a ‘communal’ scholar, though he is one of the greatest historians India has produced. But let us see what one of Leftist historians say about Aurangzeb—Satish Chandra, whose Medieval India has been taught to Class XI-XII students for years. He confirms Sarkar’s assertion about the demolition of temples in Gujarat. Further, Chandra wrote, “a number of temples such as the famous temples of Vishwanath at Banaras and the temple of Keshava Rai at Mathura built by Bir Singh Deo Bundela in the reign of Jahangire were destroyed and mosques erected in their places.”

More evidence of Aurangzeb’s bigotry as found in the Mughal documents Akhbarat.

May 25, 1679: “Khan-i-Jahan Bahadure returned from Jodhpur after demolishing its temple, and bringing with himself several cart-loads of idols. The Emperor ordered that the idols, which were mostly of gold, silver, brass, copper or stone and adorned with jewels, should be cast in the quadrangle of the Court and under the steps of the Jama Mosque for being trodden upon.”

January-February 1680: “The grand temple in front of the Maharana’s mansion [at Udaipur]—one of the most wonderful buildings of the age, which had cost the infidels much money—was destroyed and its images broken.”

September 1687: “On the capture of Golkonda, the Emperor appointed Abdur Rahim Khan as Censor of the city of Haidarabad with orders to put down infidel practices and [heretical] innovations and destroy the temples and build mosques on their sites.”

Middle of 1698: “Hamid-ud-din Khan Bahadur, who had been deputed to destroy the temple of Bijapur and build a mosque [there], returned to Court after carrying the order out and was praised by the Emperor.”

January 1705: “The Emperor, summoning Muhammad Khalil and Khidmat Rai, the darogha of hatchet-men… ordered them to demolish the temple of Pandharpur, and to take the butchers of the camp there and slaughter cows in the temple… It was done.”

the Emperor, after waiting vainly for an hour to go to the public prayer, ordered elephants to be driven through the mass of men, trampling them down and clearing a way for him

It is indisputable that Aurangzeb’s hatred for Hindus resulted in the destruction of countless temples during his almost half-a-century reign as Emperor. In fact, even before ascending the imperial throne he had started breaking temples.

The oppression and repression of Hindus was not restricted to temple destruction; the jiziya, the extortionist tax that non-Muslims have to pay under Islamic rule, was imposed. In April 1679, Hindus in Delhi protested against the tax and pleaded for its withdrawal. “But the Emperor turned a deaf ear to them. Next Friday, the whole road from the gate of the Fort to the Jama Mosque was blocked by a crowd of Hindu supplicants. They did not disperse in spite of warnings; and the Emperor, after waiting vainly for an hour to go to the public prayer, ordered elephants to be driven through the mass of men, trampling them down and clearing a way for him,” Sarkar wrote.

In general taxation too, the Hindus were discriminated against: they had to pay at a higher rate. One consequence of these atrocities and discrimination was that many Hindu were forced to convert to Islam.

Shame on the apologists of Aurangzeb.

Ravi Shanker Kapoor is a journalist and author. He upholds freedom of expression, individual liberty, free market, and open society. He is an uncompromising opponent of Islamism, communism, and other totalitarian ideologies. He is also a critic of intellectuals, as evident from his third book, How India’s Intellectuals Spread Lies (Vision Books).
  • Bollapragada Bhaskar

    If Aurangazeb was not a hater of Hindus, Sivaji maharaj would have been agreat friend of conflicts between Sivaji and muslims

    • kyzylkumkohlrabi

      While Shivaji may have tolerated Muslims within his kingdom, he certainly did not have any love for Islam. Indeed if his heirs lived up to Shivaji’s caliber, they would have likely finished Islam off in at least the Deccan. As Shivaji writes in a letter to Jai Singh:
      Line 17: “The greater sorrow is that my sword, which thirsts for the blood of the Mussalmans, should be drawn from the scabbard for some other purpose.”

      Line 64: “So that, from end of the Deccan to the other, I may wipe out the name and the very vestige of Mahomedanism.”

      Essentially, Shivaji was a visionary who, like Maharana Kumbha, knew that the only long-term solution to Hindu suffering would be to eliminate Islam completely from the land of Bharata.

      As Shivaji states in line 51 of his letter to Jai Singh, “It is a matter of supreme wonder that a handful of Mussalmans should establish supremacy over this vast country.” In other words, he was fundamentally opposed to the notion of a Muslim, ANY Muslim, ruling over the entirety of Bharata.

      Letter to Jai Singh:

  • PRDprasad

    None would like a road or a city in India to be named after Alexander, the Great or Ambhi, who had conspired against Porus by joining hands with Alexander. None would like a road or a city to be named after Ghazni, or Gori or Chenghis Khan.

  • PRDprasad

    Why only name of a public Road? Dr. Kalam deserves a Nobel Peace Prize 2015. The Missile man was a scientist, studied in government schools, worked in public sector, became President of the Republic, shunned spoils of office, and won the hearts of crores of Indians, more particularly the Young Indians. Who knows many might have nominated him for Nobel Peace Prize already. In so far as the Roads in New Delhi are concerned, Curzon Road was renamed as KG Marg by NDMC, long back. Now NDMC is doing so with Aurangazeb Road. Perfect! More than 200 years ago, Aurangzeb had ascended to throne and captured the State power by destroying his own family viz., killing his brother and imprisoning his father. Wah! What a succession path that needs to be glorified by a democratic society in New Delhi!! Aurangazeb, was also known to have imposed a kind of professional tax (jijia) using ‘choti’ on the head of male members of the society, as a visible-tax-base, and also for tax exemptions! Wah! What kind of means he had used to raise resources for fiscal governance? If only Gandhi giri, was to be used then, on the lines of Dandi March, I guess all the Hindu males, practicing different occupations could have sported ‘choti’ on their respective heads! Anyhow, Indians lost a chance to protest unjust taxes- long-back. (It is a different matter that Gandhi ji was influenced by the story of another king by name Raja satya Harishchandra, who is believed to have ruled India thousands of years ago. The Raja had permitted sale and transfer-of-ownership of poor persons, and also promoted practice of ‘toll’ charges by outsourcing the cremation ghats on the Banks of River Ganga, at Varanasi! Remember that a cremation ground is the last point of human consumption! Under dramatic circumstances, the Raja was made to realise the problems of poverty and slavery, when he became a gate-keeper cum collector to collect ‘toll’ by himself for cremating the dead body of his son. What an admirable personal integrity)! In the instant case, Dr. Kalam reminds us how to be simple, humble and reach out to citizens, while also having missiles. Better Dr. Kalam from Rameswaram, who lived on Aurangazeb Road during the last part of his life be glorified instead of the Mogul ruler Aurangazeb!

  • Dr. MS

    This is shocking. Even educated Muslims, intellectual Muslims and true secular Muslims, when I was growing up, knew what a tyrant, brutal dictator and a violent man Aurangzeb was. This historical revisionism, and a unique kind of reversalism (a word I coined), where “the good becomes the bad” and “the bad becomes the good”, without facts, evidence or truly reliable or trustworthy research, has to be investigated, critiqued and corrected whenever necessary.

    I wrote about this years ago…when minorities, disenfranchised communities and/or those who feel disenfranchised tend to reverse past records, documents, analyses and research as a way to “empower themselves” or “challenge oppressive powers”. But reveralism, not based on evidence, facts and a thoughtful critique rooted in trustworthy research, is dangerous for it may replace one lie with another, or it may actually replace truth (though not complete) with a lie. That is far from intellectual integrity, and it does not empower the very minorities who claim to want equality and empowerment in the long run. It causes defensiveness and “reactive” politics…which can be dangerous.

    If you are using the word “reversalism” then you must quote my name.
    Thank you….

  • mukesh patel *औरंगजेब के पक्ष में वही लोग खड़े हैं, जो आतंकी याकून मेनन के लिए खड़े थे – Aurangzeb supporters traitors sikular XIslam mirzafers*

  • Prapanch Kulkarni

    Aurangzeb was a brutal despot, a bigot, and someone whose ambition was not above fratricide. All of this is accepted even by many on the left (like Gopalkrishna Gandhi in his article on this issue in the Wire).

    But two thoughts come to mind:
    1) You haven’t actually nailed a single lie. The leftists are certainly guilty of downplaying Aurangzeb’s evil, but the quotes you’ve used don’t actually have any inaccuracies or fabrications, just misunderstandings and misinterpretations (motivated ones, no doubt).
    2) I agree that a road should never have been named after Aurangzeb and that we should be happy it isn’t any longer. Someone who oppressed religious groups other than his own and destroyed their place of worship is someone who India should not respect or commemorate in any way. But where does that leave us with other ancient emperors? Ashoka, by his own admission, waged a near-genocidal war in Orissa. He killed far more people than Aurangzeb ever did before his spiritual conversion.
    3) If we are to (rightly) regard the destruction of a place of worship as a heinous crime, how do we regard the destruction of Babri Masjid?

    • PC

      Tum jaise chutiyon ki koi kami nahn india main

      • Prapanch Kulkarni

        If all you’ve got is personal abuse, you only show that you’re not capable of substantive debate or engagement.

    • Ananth Sethuraman

      The issue is not Aurangzeb, but about India’s style of intellectualism.

      can humanize Aurangzeb, you can give him credit for attempting to solve
      the problem of sati. But you must humanize Hindutvadis also!
      One-sided humanization of Aurangzeb alone will only ruin your
      credibility as an intellectual.

      You also have to humanize
      Hinduism. At present, you are following the conventional way of talking
      that by convering from Hinduism to Buddhism, Ashoka became a better
      man. In this way, you want to say Buddhism is a better kind of
      Hinduism. By doing this, you are only promoting competitiveness among religions.

      destruction of Babri Masjid is a political act that shows resentment.
      Resentment against the prolonged experimentation with Western
      imports like liberalism, marxism, socialism, the John Locke style of
      secularism, post-colonialism, post-modernism, binary divisions like
      left-wing vs. right-wing, … No Buddhist philosphy. No Sufi
      philosophy. No Syrian Christian philosophy. And, of course, no Hindu

      India has experimented with all those imported
      philosophies for 60 years. Those philosophies work in a Protestant
      country. Not in a pagan/heathen country.

      • guest

        Interesting points. Please share what you mean here by a Pagan country….I mean why are we using ‘their’ terms. both the terms are derogatory…at least that is how they are used

      • Prapanch Kulkarni

        My friend, I think you and I are in substantial agreement. As a believing and practicing Hindu, I for one am not trying to suggest that Buddhism is superior or encourage competition between religions. What is relevant here is Ashoka’s conversion to non-violence. Also, Buddhism and Hinduism are in a sense sister faiths, and our Hinduism, unlike that of Ashoka’s time, is also the product of a synthesis with Buddhism.

        I disagree with you on one point. We’ve never actually had the John Locke style of secularism (or even the Spinoza type) in India. Our secularism has mostly been a mockery of any coherent idea of secularism.

        Thank you for, unlike so many, conducting intellectual debate in a rational and civilized manner.

        • guest

          I do not necessarily agree with everything you say, but I do agree about rational and civilised intellectual debate. Yes!!

        • Ananth Sethuraman

          It is impossible for a heathen/pagan country to have the John Locke
          style of secularism. The John Locke style of secularism is fit only for
          Protestant countries. Protestantants and Catholics differ in two
          important ways: (1) Protestants think that each man is his own priest.
          Catholics think that only the Church of Rome can be a priest, and others
          (who are not priests) have to go through the Church of Rome. (2)
          Catholics think that the Church of Rome can issue orders to the police
          of any country to arrest anybody they like; in this way, the Church of
          Rome can arrest any Christian who refuses to use priests of the Church
          of Rome. In contrast, Protestants think that the police cannot obey
          orders that would stop Protestant individuals from being their own
          priests. Item (2) is a major contribution of John Locke. Item (2) is the
          genesis of separation of the church and the state. This argument shows
          that Locke’s contribution is fit for Protestant countries, and useless
          for heathen/pagan countries. This also shows why “our secularism has
          mostly been a mockery of any coherent idea of secularism”. Constitutional law is closely allied with the religion and the culture
          of a country—some authors who have made this point are Berman, Tuck, Waldron, Makinen etc. The foregoing is my summary of Jakob deRoover & S. N. Balagangadhara (2008). John Locke, Christian Liberty and the Predicament of Liberal Toleration. Political Theory 36 (4):523-549. Please read the original, as my summary could contain mistakes.

    • _chAyA_

      Asoka kiled people NOT because of their religion while Aurangazed DID. There in lies the difference. Destruction of temples happened first. Hence nothing wrong in destruction of the babri masjid.

    • guest

      Important to note that Asoka did not mass murder because he thought that his religion was better. Also important to note that after the war, there was a change of heart and you see the result in Buddhism and what it brought to the world. What did Aurangzeb or any emperors for that matter, contribute? Did any one convert to Buddhism or Hinduism? or did they question their own faith? not change.

      As for the Babri Masjid, here watch this…

    • Mihir

      Mr. Kulkarni, You better accept that Babri Masjid was a defiled temple. H’ble Supreme Court has given a judgment to this effect also. I wish your heart ached even once for the millions of temple destruction carried out for centuries.

      For the record, During the Ayodhya movement, understand very clearly that not a single Muslim was harmed or killed. A defiled temple that is a part of the soul of the subcontinent was regained.

  • K.Harapriya

    The question is not why they are changing the name. The question is why they had an Aurangzeb road in the first place. Most country’s don’t name roads after mass murderers and tyrants, even if they were rulers. Hence, no Hitler Road in Germany etc.

    • Krispy K

      Most countries don’t allow unabashed traitors to dictate the public discourse.