Aurangzeib: Hero or Villain?

Aurangzeib ruled for almost 50 years. During his reign the Mughal Empire reached its territorial climax. He proved to be a hardworking ruler and never spared himself or his subordinates in the tasks of government. His letters show the close attention had paid to all affairs of state. He was a strict disciplinarian who did not spare even his own sons. Such was the awe of Aurangzeib that even late in his life, when his son Mauzzam who was the governor of Kabul trembled every time he received a letter from his father who was then in South India.

Unlike his predecessors, Aurangzeib did not like ostentation. His personal life was marked by simplicity. He had the reputation of being an orthodox, God-fearing Muslim. In course of time he began to be regarded as a ‘Zinda peer’ or a living saint.

Some of the historians believe that his character has been maligned for unnecessary reasons. He was very simple person who believed in simplicity.

He stopped ‘Kalima’ to be inscribed on coins, banned the festival of ‘Nauroz’ as it was considered a Zoroastrian practice. He appointed officials to ensure and see people living in accordance to ‘sharah’. He forbade singing though he himself was a proficient veena player. He discontinued the practice of Jaruka Darshan or showing himself up to the public from the balcony since he considered it a superstitious practice and against Islam. Similarly he forbade the ceremony of weighing the emperor against gold and silver and other articles on his birthdays.

His character as a ruler is being questioned for he exempted Muslims traders from the payment of cess, imposed Jizyah on non-Muslims. He ordered that long standing temples should not be demolished but no new temples were allowed to build. He issued orders that old places of worship (temples) are allowed to repair. These orders (farmans) still are at National Library Calcutta and in a temple at Jaipur. Aurangzeib however shutdown many temples where idol worship was practiced. He believed that such temples were the centres of spreading subversive ideas. The destruction of temples by Aurangzeib like temple of Keshava Rai at Mathura had a political motive as well.

In his policy toward temples, Aurangzeib may have remained formally within the framework of the Islamic law but there is little doubt that his stand in the matter was a setback to the policy of broad toleration followed by his predecessors. It must be noted that Aurangzeib sometimes offered grants to some Hindu temples and Mathas. [Source…. NCERT]

Network KNT

Network Kashmir is sister concern of Kashmir based News Agency Kashmir News Trust. Network KNT is a sincere attempt from budding Journalists of Kashmir to present News in its true form without any favoritism and bias.

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