With Audrey Truschke asserting the view that Aurangzeb Alamgir, the sixth ruler of the Mughul dynasty, was not as tyrant as he is made out to be, there has been an immense amount of humor that has gone viral via social media and consequently the newest trend is #YoAurangzebSoNoble.
(Image Source: Aeon)
But, here are some historical facts that prove Aurangzeb wasn’t a noble man:
1 – Imposition of Jizya on Non-Muslims
Aurangzeb has been severely criticized by Hindu historians for his act of imposing Jizya i.e. war tax on people belonging to the Non-Muslim fraternity. Jizya used to be collected from non-Muslims living in a Muslim country and especially from those who were not willing to volunteer for the defense of the nation. However what needs to be into account is that the taxable amount was returned in case the government failed to offer protection to its citizens.
2 – Economic Discrimination on the Basis of Religion
Economic discrimination was found to be observed as Aurangzeb started to grant rewards to those who were complying with religious conversion. On the acceptance of the royal faith, infidels could easily get rewards like liberation from prison, posts in the public service, robes of honor, so on and so forth. According to the French traveler Tavernier, ‘Under the cover of the fact that the rulers are Muslims, they persecute these poor idolaters to the utmost and of any of the latter becomes Muslims it is in order not to work anymore.’
3 – Enforcement of Islamic Law
With a low level of tolerance, Aurangzeb enacted laws in order to interfere with the non-Muslim worship. Not only it included destruction of non-Muslim religious schools and temple but also prohibited specific Hindu practices such as Sati – the process of self-immolation by widows.
4 – Destruction of Temples
Whether it came out as a consequence of political play or whether it was a punishment for rebellion, none could disagree over the fact that hundreds of temples were destroyed during his emperorship. Both the Keshav Deo temple in Mathura and the Viswanath Temple in Varanasi, when destructed, became the space for construction of mosques. Keshav Deo temple was substituted by the Katra Masjid Mosque.
5 – Communal Reservation
Reservation, the most talked about topic today, perhaps saw a glimpse of modernity when the posts in revenue departments were reserved for Muslims only. Many historians agree over the fact that the lack of qualified Muslims who could replace the Hindus resulted into diminishing efficiency of the administration.
6 – Destruction of Painting and Images
Since Aurangzeb believed in the fact that the images are forbidden in the Muslim precepts, the representational artwork was stopped from being produced and even the soldiers had the right to deface architectural images. Thus has been lost the documentation of the practice of former Mughal emperors.