Western Scholar’s Efforts to Acquit Aurangzeb from his Religious Bigotry
Nowadays there is a lot of news about the work of Audrey Truschke, who is a professor in America and who claims that Aurangzeb was a good guy, that much of the crimes attributed to him have never happened. She’s part of a slightly larger movement, in Zurich three years ago. I attended the conference of the European Association for South Asian Studies and there was a whole session, an all-day-long session about Aurangzeb, Aurangzeb through Hindi literary sources and so the main thing which every one of the speakers repeated that, was that Aurangzeb was praised by many people.
Now in the case of a ruler like Aurangzeb, that hardly proves anything. You can find a lot of eulogies for Stalin, in fact, if you fail to produce one, you are in trouble. Like among these eulogies was a confirmation of his good character by Guru Govind Singh, this is the famous Zafarnama – the victory letter which is not quite victorious, which is very tardiness. You see, he is trying to curry favor with the men who holds out all the cards, namely the Emperor Aurangzeb, who had defeated him. Now you see, you don’t need to know, much to know that this is absolute nonsense. This lies diametrically in the face of the true story, you know, in those circumstances, were Gobind Singh was in a weak position, he may have had his reasons to be diplomatic towards Aurangzeb, but what did he really think? Now usually I have a hard time looking into people’s minds and you know guessing what they think, in this case I know 100% certain, he hated Aurangzeb more than any other human being on earth. I know this. Very sure, because Aurangzeb killed Guru Gobind Singh’s father and all his four sons. I don’t think you need much knowledge about human nature to understand that he absolutely hated Aurangzeb and yet professors in logic declared all seriousness that you see, he gave a testimonial good conduct to Aurangzeb.
However, Audrey Truschke is right in one respect. In fact all these Hindus, who blame Aurangzeb, will think he was an evil character, they have a bit of a one-sided view of him. Aurangzeb was a very good guy, at least if you think that piety is a good thing. He was a very pious Eskimo and he was a very ascetic man like he reproached his father Shajahan for living a very luxurious life, spending tax or tax rupees only silly Taj Mahal and he insulted very frugally. Yeah he was a very good example in that respect. Now the motive that made him live in ascetic way, is the very same motive that made him commit iconoclasm on a very large scale, the very same reason why he reintroduced the Jizya on the non-believers. The Jizya is the special tax that non-eskimos have to pay, to be allowed to live. Namely his piety because he was a pious man, he was a very ascetic man, and because he was a pious man, he destroyed temples. So if you think, piety is a good thing, then Aurangzeb was a very good man. Unfortunately, the religion to which he offered his piety, that is where something is wrong.
At any rate, general comments, when the present political constraints, that force people who should know better into saying all these nice things about the Eskimos. When these political constraints fall away, then there are the widespread laughter at the funny intellectual contortions that secularist historians have thought up.