Some Indians today hate Aurangzeb who was the 6th emperor of the Mughal empire. The reason for their hatred? Well, they claim Aurangzeb razed several thousands of Hindu temples to the ground simple because of his hatred towards the Hindus, forced millions of Indians to convert to Islam and engaged in a genocide of Hindus. How shocking??!! If only it was true. Is this hatred justified? Is there even any truth behind this claim? Have these people even studied the life of this Mughal emperor? These are some of the questions you should be asking yourself if you hate Aurangzeb.

Most of the times, people who hate him today have little to no knowledge of the historical Aurangzeb. Whatever knowledge they have is from ill informed sources that want to use the personality of Aurangzeb in their politics to build hatred for all the Muslims of India today and hence also develop a hatred for Islam.

Online propaganda websites propagate misinformation on Muslims and Islam
  • Aurangzeb never carried out or ordered a program of mass conversion of Hindus or anybody else for that matter. Talking about conversions,
    • Some people found compelling reasons to adopt Islam. They had many reasons to embrace Islam as their way of life. For example
      • They were convinced of the truth of Islam
      • They wanted to climb the mughal hierarchy and they thought becoming Muslim would help them
      • Or perhaps they wanted to become eligible for certain jobs such as jizya collectors which were for Muslims. It is impossible for us to say with certainty what their reasons were but one thing is clear that it was out of their own free will and certainly there is no documented evidence that Aurangzeb carried out any mass forced conversions.
  • Administrator of Hindu temples –
    • Aurangzeb protected more temples than the specific ones he had to destroy.
      • Hindu and Jain temples dotted the landscape of Aurangzeb’s India. These religious institutions were entitled to Mughal state protection and Aurangzeb, as a general rule, worked to ensure their safety and well being.
      • Audrey Truschke in her recent book on Aurangzeb says “He issued dozens of orders that directed officials to shield temples from unwanted interference, granted land to Hindu communities, and provided stipends to Hindu spiritual figures.”
      •  In 9th year of his rule, he sent a farman to the Umananad temple at Gauhati in Assam confirming an earlier land grant and the associated right to collect revenue
      • In the year 1680, he directed that a Hindu ascetic who lived on the banks of the river Ganges be left free from harassment.
      • In 1687, he gave land on a ghat in benares to Ramjivan Gosain to build houses for Brahmins.

1n 1691, Aurangzeb granted a huge piece of tax-free land on Mahant Balak Das Nirvani of Chitrakoot to support the Balaji temple. And the list goes on….

  • Not only scholars such as Audrey Truschke but even Hindu historians from India agree to these claims
  • Aurangzeb’s vision of how good kings should treat non muslim religious sites
    • Aurangzeb sent a princely order (Nishan) to Rana Raj Singh (a Hindu Rajput ruler of Mewar) in 1654

“Because the persons of great kings are shadows of God, the attention of this elevated class, who are the pillars of God’s court, is devoted to this: that men of various dispositions and different religions (mazaahib) should live in the vale of peace and pass their days in prosperity, and no one should meddle in the affairs of another.”

  • Zeb promised to turn back on such un-Islamic practices once he ascended the throne.
  • In Aurangzeb’s eyes, Islamic teachings and the Mughal tradition enjoined him to protect non muslims temples, their religious sites and their holy men.
  • In the same princely order, he condemned any king “who resorted to bigotry” as guilty of “razing God’s prosperous creations and destroying divine foundations.”
  • Aurangzeb issued a imperial order (farman) to local Mughal officials at Benares that directed them to halt any interference in the affairs of local temples.
  • Took action against harassment of Hindu residents of Banaras and nearby places
  • He ordered his officials saying “You must see that nobody unlawfully disturbs the brahmins or other Hindus of that region, so that they might remain in their traditional place and pray for the continuance of the empire.”
  • Temples destroyed by Aurangzeb due to Political reasons
    • In India during Aurangzeb’s time, temples had a religious as well as a political status.
      • Many hindu kings destroyed each others’ temples.
    • At times, Aurangzeb (The emperor) had to take action against certain selected temples that were acting against the state interests.
  • As we can see most of the temple destructions happened in the Rajasthan area where the Rajputs were engaged in ongoing political struggle against Aurangzeb.
  • “It is not lawful to lay waste ancient idol temples, and it does not rest with you to prohibit ablution in a reservoir which has been customary from ancient times.” – advice given by Muslim jurists lim jurists
  • Of the thousands of Hindu and Jain temples in Mughal domains, most (though not all) stood at the end of his rule.
  • Why advance such a false narrative against Aurangzeb? Why make Aurangzeb a villain?
    • The simple answer is political convenience. It is simply to gain political points in this environment quickly. By creating this environment of hatred and division. It seems the current Hindu nationalists have learn the lesson of Divide and rule well from their British colonial masters.
      • They try to potray the Muslim rulers as colonial but in fact these Hindu nationalists have become more colonial by adopting the British tactic of divide and rule to break the true power of India which is its diversity. By using their tactic of spreading hate amongst communities to achieve their agenda and keep themselves in power.
  • If Hitler killed 6 millions Jews, will we blame the religion of Christianity for that? Do we say that Christianity teaches Christians to kill jews?? No!
    • Just like that even if there were some kings who considered them to be Muslims destroyed some Hindu temples, we cannot blame Islam for that. We cannot just claim that Aurangzeb destroyed temples because he hated Hindus and because Islam taught him that. That claim is totally baseless and ignorant claim to make. 
  • A way forward
    • Stop hating blindly and learn history from the proper sources.
    • Don’t be divided on ethnic or religious lines.

Books on this subject

1. Aurangzeb: The Life and Legacy of India’s Most Controversial King (Audrey Truschke)

2. Temple Desecration and Muslim States in Medieval India (Richard Eaton) A detailed video on Jizya – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pB4ZuidEJOI

Research work

https://scholarship.rice.edu/bitstream/handle/1911/101530/Murdoch-RHR-2018-Spring.pdf.

Click to access txt_eaton_temples2.pdf