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Aurangzeb Alamgir (r. 1658–1707), the sixth Mughal emperor, is widely reviled in India today. Hindu hater, murderer and religious zealot are just a handful of the modern caricatures of this maligned ruler. While many continue to accept the storyline peddled by colonial-era thinkers—that Aurangzeb, a Muslim, was a Hindu-loathing bigot—there is an untold side to him as a manAurangzeb Alamgir (r. 1658–1707), the sixth Mughal emperor, is widely reviled in India today. Hindu hater, murderer and religious zealot are just a handful of the modern caricatures of this maligned ruler. While many continue to accept the storyline peddled by colonial-era thinkers—that Aurangzeb, a Muslim, was a Hindu-loathing bigot—there is an untold side to him as a man who strove to be a just, worthy Indian king.In this bold and captivating biography, Audrey Truschke enters the public debate with a fresh look at the controversial Mughal emperor....

Title : Aurangzeb: The Man and the Myth
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ISBN : 9780670089819
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 216 Pages
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Aurangzeb: The Man and the Myth Reviews

  • Nandakishore Varma
    2019-03-11 17:02

    Aurangzeb has been cast as an unmitigated villain by the British, a myth which has been enthusiastically adopted by Hindutva apologists to further their agenda of projecting Muslims as cruel bigots and ruthless killers. The truth, as usual, is much more nuanced.The casual reader and scholar alike, however, should be wary of what constitutes historical evidence and a legitimate historical claim. Individuals that claim to present 'evidence' of Aurangzeb's supposed barbarism couched in the suspiciously modern terms of Hindu-Muslim conflict often trade in falsehoods, including fabricated documents and blatantly wrong translations. Many who condemn Aurangzeb have no training in the discipline of history and lack even basic skills in reading premodern Persian. Be sceptical of communal visions that flood the popular sphere. This biography aims to deepen our remarkably thin knowledge about the historical man and king, Aurangzeb Alamgir.Thus concludes Audrey Truschke the book under review; and we would do well to heed her words. So much of what we have been taught as history have been infected by politics: originally by the designs of our colonial masters, then by the political outlook of the "brown sahibs" who took over our country from them, and lastly by the strident (if illogical) claims of our aggressive Hindu right. Unfortunately, all three found it expedient to demonise Aurangzeb - the British to create the myth of centuries-long Hindu-Muslim conflict, the Congress to prove their historical role in solving that conflict and the BJP to to sustain the myth of the marauding Muslim and the tolerant and long-suffering Hindu. This is the myth that most of us grew up with, and this is the myth which still proves remarkably resilient.No person is uni-dimensional (other than comic book heroes and villains). This is why narratives which run counter to the popular one are important; why articles describing Gandhi's racism and Mother Theresa's religious fundamentalism need to be read (though not necessarily agreed with). Only when we try to look at historical personages in all their complexity shall we be able to see the past in all its multi-hued glory - which in turn, will illuminate the present.Audrey Truschke has produced a very readable book (though rather short on substance) on the Emperor which does a laudable job of debunking the myth. Though one expects a more detailed analysis, this book should serve as a starting point for any interested reader on the controversial sovereign.The charges levied against Aurangzeb are mainly two: (1) he was a bloodthirsty monster who treated his enemies savagely and murdered his kin to gain the throne and (2) he was a religious bigot who relentlessly persecuted Hindus and destroyed temples. The author shows that both of these charges are rooted in half-truths which are more dangerous than lies, because they can so easily fool the gullible.As to the first charge: yes, Aurangzeb did that - but it was no more than any other Mughal prince would do. Wars of succession for a vacant throne was the norm in the dynasty. There was no primogeniture - the popular saying was ya takht ya tabut (either the throne or the grave). Although Dara Shukoh, Shah Jahan's eldest and favourite son has been treated very kindly by history, in the matter of squabbling for the throne, he was as good (or as bad) as the other three; Shah Shuja, Aurangzeb and Murad. All four wanted the kingship and were willing to do away with their brothers. Aurangzeb was the one who won out.There have been many recorded instances of Aurangzeb treating his enemies cruelly (Shivaji's son Sambaji is the example which immediately comes to mind) - but then, there are other instances when he proved lenient. Again, there is no evidence to prove that he was more savage than any average medieval king.Now the biggest charge - that of the religious bigot who systematically tried to wipe out Hinduism - has to be examined. Ms. Truschke provides convincing evidence to illustrate that he was no bigot: only a strict and pious ruler, obsessed with an idea of justice. Obviously he would have considered Islam the true religion and all others as false, but it is clear that politics trumped faith on most occasions. The author quotes Richard Eaton, the leading authority on the subject, to establish that the number of confirmed temple destructions is just over a dozen. And many of those acts had political roots. (We must bear in mind that even Hindu kings sacked and pillaged the temples in rival's domain - the Shaiva/ Vaishnava conflicts are obvious examples.)There are also ample examples of the emperor continuing the Mughal system of patronage of Hindu and Jain communities. Also, Aurangzeb had a number of Hindu officials under him, some of whom enjoyed very high ranks. Hardly to be expected of a fanatic Hindu-hater! However, it is clear that he was no Akbar, as he reimposed the Jizya (tax on non-Muslims) even though it is very doubtful whether the order was implemented in practice.(Here I must say that I do not accept what the author says without a pinch of salt. I have read other believable sources, notably the Malayalam author Anand, who claim that Aurangzeb was more fanatical than most. Instead of swinging to one or other end of the pendulum, we must weigh the evidence and decide for ourselves.)Ultimately, Aurangzeb was a strong king who ruled for more than five decades and who expanded the Mughal kingdom across a major part of the subcontinent. Instead of a cartoon villain, he was a complex character who was composed in parts of the good, the bad and the indifferent, much like all of us.Aurangzeb nonetheless defies easy summarization. He was a man of studied contrasts and perplexing features. Aurangzeb was preoccupied with order - even fretting over the safety of the roads - but found no alternative to imprisoning his father, an action decried across much of Asia. He did not hesitate to slaughter family members, or rip apart enemies, literally, as was the case with Sambhaji. He also sewed prayer caps by hand and professed a desire to lead a pious life. he was angered by bad administrators, rotten mangoes, and unworthy sons. He was a connoisseur of music and even fell in love with the musician Hirabai, but, beginning in midlife, deprived himself of the pleasure of the musical arts. Nonetheless, he passed his later years in the company of another musician, Udaipuri. He built the largest mosque in the world but chose to be buried in an unmarked grave. He died having expanded the Mughal kingdom to its greatest extent in history and yet feared utter failure.A complex character indeed - and one worthy of more attention than that which has been given.

  • Sree Muppirisetty
    2019-03-02 01:21

    In this book Audrey Truschke takes up the challenge of addressing one of the most controversial figures of Indian history. The book should be read in the spirit it was written- as a "preliminary" engagement/exploration of alternative understandings about Aurangzeb. A historian’s task to this extent is doubly challenging: identifying the source material and putting aside one’s predispositions and prejudices in the task of interpreting the sources. Truschke claims she has stepped forward from earlier research (read Jadunath Sarkar’s) on Aurangzeb in this regard.The author attempts to understand Aurangzeb’s core values and how they informed his rule as an emperor. She claims that Aurangzeb wanted “to be a just king, a good Muslim and a sustainer of Mughal culture.” She condones Aurangzeb’s use of violent tactics to continue his plans of an expansionist state. In her words: “But the question before us is not whether Aurangzeb was a just king. Rather I want to know what Aurangzeb thought it meant to be a just Mughal king, and how that shaped is world views and actions as emperor of Hindustan” (P.13).However, at a few points in the book, it is hard to reconcile the author’s benign reading of Aurangzeb with her own evidence. The narrative construct seems repetitive and thin. The reader is left unconvinced. For instance, the author claims Aurangzeb extended state security to Hindu and Jain temples more often than he demolished them. Aurangzeb authorized targeted temple destructions and desecrations throughout his rule (PP 100-101). Though, Aurangzeb issued an order in 1672 recalling all endowed land grants given to Hindus and reserved all such land grants for Muslims it was not strictly enforced, hence a second order was issued. Truschke contends that: “If strictly enforced, this move would have been a significant blow to Hindu and Jain religious communities, but historical evidence suggests otherwise” (P.105). I feel the author widely misses the point that policy stance sets the tone for public culture. Policy initiatives especially in those times cannot be taken lightly. The empire existed to please the emperor. In the absence of appropriate checks and balances in that time and day the emperor’s inclinations would have directed and shaped political culture of the public.The idea that Aurangzeb’s religious ideas were puritanical and that he was “pious” than his predecessors is contested in the book. I wish the author would have delved deeper into the tenuous relation between religion and politics. That the Mughal emperors and even the kings of the Delhi Sultanate in the earlier centuries strived to win over the religious leaders to legitimize their authority has been explored elsewhere. It is this nuance that might have been explored in the book. For all his ‘piety’ and stance on morality I feel Aurangzeb was not far from his predecessors in craving approval from the Ulema and privileging the role of religion in real politick. Rulers of the Delhi Sultanate and early Mughal emperors were aware that they might have won over the land but the popular will and sympathies lied with the Sufi masters who were the real Kings ruling the hearts of the people. I would have liked to read more about Aurangzeb’s contentious relation with the Sufis of Delhi and the Deccan. The author does have a good point that Aurangzeb’s piety might have been a performance for himself (to redeem himself from guilt for his past actions) and for others (to gain credibility). The conflicting personalities of Aurangzeb are laid out in Chapters 4 and 5. I wish the author would have engaged more on Aurangzeb’s lack of an enduring legacy. Had he consolidated his victories and built a bureaucratic apparatus to implement his idea of justice, history would have remembered him as fair and impartial and not as a vindictive, impulsive emperor meting out retributive justice.We need more scholars like Truschke to challenge received understanding but we also need rigorous scholarship that moves beyond conjecture and thin evidence.

  • Kanika Sisodia
    2019-03-15 21:20

    Thoroughly enjoyed the book, for all Non- history Persons, its a very simple read. This book deals with the most hated person in India, and offers a narrative as to how we are all wrong. Aurangzeb tried to be a just king in Medieval India, and one should not attempt to judge based on modern perspectives. Aurangzeb like all had many faults, but not that we often accuse him of, being a religious bigot and fanatic as the book constantly draws our attention to these facts. Must Read if you love Medieval Indian History.

  • Hrishikesh
    2019-03-23 21:56

    If you care about serious, objective history, this book is pure rubbish. The sort of cherry-picking of facts that this book employs is adequate to convince the lay reader that Aurangzeb was one of the most pious rulers to have ever walked the face of this Earth. At some junctions, the arguments are so wafer-thin that they are laughable. These perversions would undoubtedly appeal to the honorary members of the Irfan Habib fan club, but they do a great disservice to history and academia. I will be writing a detailed rejoinder soon, but I would strongly advice against wasting your time on this book.

  • Sajith Kumar
    2019-03-03 23:10

    Old wine in an old bottle – that is the impression one feels after reading this small book on the last great Mughal emperor Aurangzeb Alamgir. He was a controversial figure then, as now. All of India, with the exception of a bunch of Left-leaning career-historians, consider Aurangzeb as a tyrant who harassed and intimidated the non-Muslim, non-Sunni subjects in untold number of ways. This dislike comes out in more ways than one. ‘Aurangzeb ki Aulad’ (progeny of Aurangzeb) is an invective in India which one hurls against his opponent in the heat of the argument. The administration of Delhi changed the name of Aurangzeb Road in the city to APJ Abdul Kalam Road in 2015. Just because the emperor treated his non-Muslim, non-Sunni subjects so badly, his name is revered in Pakistan and other places where jihadists exert their vicious influence. The Mughals ruled over a vast empire, whose population outstripped the entirety of Europe in 1600. Supplicants from European courts literally begged for trading concessions from the Mughals. Aurangzeb was well known in the higher echelons of England at that time as evidenced in the heroic tragedy Aureng-zebe penned by the poet laureate John Dryden in 1675. This book is by a young author who seeks to clear the myths about the legendary king and bring out the truth. Wholesale whitewashing of Aurangzeb off all his heinous crimes is the outcome of this volume. Audrey Truschke is assistant professor of South Asian history at Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey. Her teaching and research interests focus on the cultural, imperial and intellectual history of early modern and modern India (c.1500-present). Unfortunately, the primary source research of the book relies solely on printed editions and no new facts are mentioned anywhere.Aurangzeb was the most pious Mughal king. But piety was never translated into righteousness in this cruel prince’s career. The mistreatment of his own father, Shah Jehan, is a case in point. Ya takht ya tabut (either the throne or the grave) was the prevailing maxim among brothers in the imperial household. The successful brother – not necessarily the eldest – usually killed or blinded his siblings in the struggle for succession. But extending this rationale for lusting after power to one’s own father was a trifle too much even for medieval sensibilities. The Sharif of Mecca declined to recognize Aurangzeb as the proper ruler of Hindustan and refused his financial gifts for several years until Shah Jehan was dead in his son’s captivity. Contrary to Islamic doctrine, Aurangzeb was a staunch believer in astrology and continued to consult astrologers till the end of his life. Like other princes of the era, he too was fond of shapely dancers and singers. Trushcke remarks about his whirlwind romance with a courtesan named Hirabai Zainabadi in Burhanpur that created ripples of palace gossip. He was enthusiastic in erecting fine mausoleums for his loved ones, just like other Mughal kings. Aurangzeb’s first wife, Dilras Banu Begum, died from complications following the birth of her fifth child and the king erected a fine tomb Bibi ka Maqbara at Aurangabad. Locals still call it ‘Poor man’s Taj’.Aurangzeb’s transition to Puritanism after 1669 is clearly noted in the book. As part of his Deccan campaign, the capital was shifted to the South and the king and his entourage lived in tents thereafter for the rest of his life. His nomad ancestors had lived in tents and in a twist of fate, the world-seizer (alamgir) also spent his life in tents in the wilderness. He tried to ensure justice to the people, but corruption was widespread under the elusive quest for justice. Even Abdul Wahhab, the chief qazi (judge) and hence a moral guide to the empire, freely indulged in backhand dealings. Truschke makes a vain attempt to praise Aurangzeb for increasing the share of Hindu nobility from 22.5 per cent under Akbar to 31.6 per cent of the total. The real cause for this increase was the frantic attempt to incorporate the Maratha aristocracy into the Mughal nobility so as to co-opt them in the fight against the Deccan sultanates. Aurangzeb’s cruelty to Sambhaji, who was Shivaji’s son and captured by Mughal troops, is mentioned in the book. He was forced to wear funny hats and was led into court on camels. He then had Sambhaji’s eyes stabbed out with nails and later had him decapitated. His body was chopped to pieces and thrown to the dogs, while his head was stuffed with straw and displayed in cities throughout the Deccan (p.69). Aurangzeb at his typical best!The author justifies all the wicked acts of Aurangzeb in a rather unabashed way. She somewhat assumes a ‘So-What?’ attitude to the emperor’s most heinous depredations. He banned public festivities in the kingdom. Truschke justifies it on concerns with public safety. He resorted to forcible conversion of Hindus. The author does not deny it, but counters it with the laughable claim that some individuals found compelling reasons to adopt Islam so as to climb Mughal hierarchy and conversions made people eligible for jobs reserved for Muslims. Thus, she indirectly admits that there was indeed discrimination of the worst kind. Aurangzeb executed several prominent members of the Shiite Mahdavi sect? No problem, the Mahdavis had political ambitions. He destroyed temples? No problem, they acted against imperial interests. He demolished Vishwanath temple at Benares in 1669 and Keshav Dev temple at Mathura in 1670? No problem, this was just to punish political missteps by the temple associates. Aurangzeb desecrated Ahmedabad’s Chintamani Parshwanath Jain temple? No problem, the evidence is fragmentary, incomplete or contradictory. Aurangzeb recalled all endowed lands given to Hindus and reserved all future land grants to Muslims only? No problem, this was possibly just a concession to the ulema (Muslim clergy). So goes the author’s justifications. Trushcke’s arguments can be summarized thus – Aurangzeb could have destroyed all the temples in India. He didn’t and hence you must be grateful to his generosity! This is as ridiculous as positing that since Hitler could have killed all the Jews in Germany but didn’t, is a valid reason the Jews must regard him as a level-headed great ruler.The book devotes only a short space to Aurangzeb’s role in the scrapping of the Mughal kingdom which labored on for only 150 years after his death. It is wrong to ascribe all blame on a single person, but it is undeniable that the seeds of destruction was planted well within the lifetime of the last great Mughal. Truschke doesn’t mention anything about the slide towards disaster. Persians and Afghans robbed the country at their sweet will. Warlords roamed the kingdom and often kept the royal family in hostage. Mughal princesses were forced to dance without veil in front of their lustful eyes and lewd gestures. Emperor Shah Alam II’s eyes were gouged out of its sockets by the bare hands of such a warlord in a fit of rage. The penultimate Mughal king Akbar Shah II (r.1806-37) charged foreign visitors for an audience with him to make both ends meet. The last one, Bahadur Shah II sided against the British and ended up transported for life in Burma, while his lineage was brutally cut short by the arms of the British army. Thus ended the Mughal dynasty in 1857.The book is a total disappointment because of the single-point agenda of the author in justifying Aurangzeb by whatever means. It includes a few colour paintings on the life of the emperor. The book includes a good index.The book is recommended.

  • Pankaj Rathee
    2019-03-19 17:56

    Short review:One word to describe this book : SHAMEFULGenocide denial is a crime in several parts of the world. But in India, especially in regards to Hindu history, glorifying fanatic and rabid mass murderers not only does not land you in jail but instead makes you an 'intellectual' and an 'accomplished writer'. Having the privilege of white skin, like Audrey Truschke, makes things even more easier.Let me just ask a few questions:Can you write a book glorifying Hitler in regards to his genocide of polish people, jews and roma? Can you write a book glorifying Stalin in regards to his genocide of Ukranians, Hungarians, Romanians and Russians?The people who were decimated under the genocidal rule of such evil men, can you look in the eyes of their descendants and tell them that their oppressors were 'misunderstood men'? Even worse, Can you imagine selling such books to the descendants of the victims of such genocides?If yes, then I seriously feel sorry for the kind of human being you are. Long review:Who was Auragzeb and what did he do in India?What ISIS did to Yezidis in Iraq , Aurangzeb did the same things to Hindus a million times in India. There is not a single crime that he did not commit. Aurangzeb was a curse on humanity, he killed 4.6 Million Hindus for not converting to Islam and destroyed 60,000+ Hindu temples. He levied a religious extortion tax on non-muslims (jaziya) for refusing to convert to Islam. He established Sharia law to permanently subjugate non-muslims and suppress every other religion except Islam. He killed his own brothers and imprisoned his father. He killed his sister for being in-love with a non-muslim. Why Talibans and other islamic terrorists of today revere aurangzeb is because he held the same kind of mindset that they have in regards to non-muslims. He shared the same kind of deep hatred for kaafirs, that they have. He pursued the same policies that they would love to pursue if they had the opportunity to.The history of Aurangzebs islamic reign was over a period of nearly fifty years, spent mostly in hatred towards Hindus. Terrorist aurangzeb’s rule was gory saga of loot, rape, killing and genocide of Hindus.A famous hobby of Aurangzeb was to have his Muslim armies, march into newly conquered areas with severed heads of Hindus on pikes, so as to 'strike fear into the heart of the infidels.' [Google this phrase and you will know which religious book/terrorist manual it comes from]Lets take a glimpse into the kind of 'misunderstood' monster he was: 1, In 1672 a Hindu religious sect called the Satnamis rebelled, and was crushed with ruthless severity. In 1675, Tegh Bahadur, the ninth of the sikh gurus was taken and executed because he refused to embrace Islam.2, In 1678, Raja Jaswant Singh of Marwar died. The emperor tried to seize his children and have them brought up as fanatic muslims. He adopted the same policy towards the young Maratha Prince Shahu. Finally in 1679 he induced heavy jizya or poll-tax to earn revenues from Hindus3, Dyal Das, Mati Das and Sati Das as well as the Guru were brought to the open space in front of the Kotwali (Mati Das and Sati das were brothers, they were former Brahmins and belong to the area of Jammu, instead of converting to islam favored Sikhism). First of all Bhai Mati das was asked to become a Muslim. He replied that Sikhism was true and Islam was false. If God had favoured Islam, he would have created all men circumised. He was at once tied between two posts, and while standing erect, was sawn across from head to loins. He faced the savage operation with such compusure tranquility and fortitude that Sikh theologians included his name in the daily prayers (Ardas).He was tied up like a bundle with an iron chain and was put into large cauldron of bowling oil. He was roasted alive into a block of charcoal. Sati Das condemned the brutalities. He was hacked to pieces limb by limb. Jaita a Rangreta sikh of delhi collected the remains of these martyrs and consigned them to the river Yamuna flowing at a stone’s throw.Accounts of Temple Destruction by Historians of AurangzebSome of the literary evidence of temple destruction during Aurangzeb’s rule is listed below.1. “Mir’at-i-Alam” by Bakhtawar Khan Account on Temple Destruction by Terrorist AurangzebThe author was a nobleman of Aurangzeb’s court. He died in AD 1684. the history ascribed to him was really compiled by Muhammad Baqa of Saharanpur who gave the name of his friend as its author. Baqa was a prolific writer who was invited by Bakhtawar Khan to Aurangzeb’s court and given a respectable rank. He died in AD 1683.Excerpts:Muhiyu’d-Din Muhammad Aurangzeb ‘Alamgir Padshah Ghazi (1658-1707) General Order” …Hindu writers have been entirely excluded from holding public offices, and ALL THE WORSHIPPING PLACES OF THE INFIDELS AND GREAT TEMPLES of these infamous people HAVE BEEN THROWN DOWN AND DESTROYED in a manner which excites astonishment at the successful completion of so difficult a task. His Majesty personally teaches the sacred kalima to many infidels with success. … All mosques in the empire are repaired at public expense…”2. “Alamgir-Nama” by Mirza Muhammad Kazim Account on Temple Destruction by Terrorist AurangzebThis work, written in AD 1688 contains a history of the first ten years of Aurangzeb’s reign.Excerpts:Muhiyu’d-Din Muhammad Aurangzeb ‘Alamgir Padshah Ghazi (1658-1707) Palamau (Bihar)” …In 1661 Aurangzeb in his zeal to uphold the law of Islam sent orders to his viceroy in Bihar, Daud Khan, to conquer Palamau. In the military operations that followed MANY TEMPLES WERE DESTROYED…”Koch Bihar (Bengal)” …Towards the end of the same year when Mir Jumla made a war on the Raja of Kuch Bihar, the MUGHALS DESTROYED MANY TEMPLES during the course of their operations. IDOLS WERE BROKEN AND SOME TEMPLES WERE CONVERTED INTO MOSQUES. …”3. “Mas’ir-i-‘Alamgiri” by Saqi Must’ad Khan Account on Temple Destruction by Terrorist AurangzebThe author completed this history in 1710 at the behest of Inayatu”llah Khan Kashmiri, Aurangzeb’s last secretary and favorite disciple in state policy and religiosity. The materials which Must’ad Khan used in this history of Aurangzeb’s reign came mostly from the State archives.Excerpts:Muhiyu’d-Din Muhammad Aurangzeb ‘Alamgir Padshah Ghazi (1658-1707) General Order“…The Lord Cherisher of the faith learnt that in the provinces of Tatta, Multan, and especially at Benaras, the Brahmin misbelievers used to teach their false books in their established schools, and that admirers and students both Hindu and Muslim, used to come from great distances to these misguided men in order to acquire this vile learning. His majesty, eager to establish Islam, issues orders to the governors of all the provinces TO DEMOLISH THE SCHOOLS AND TEMPLES OF THE INFIDELS and with utmost urgency put down the teaching and the public practice of the religion of these misbelievers…”Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh)” …It was reported that, according to the Emperor’s command, his officers HAD DEMOLISHED THE TEMPLE OF VISHWANATH AT KASHI. …” Mathura (Uttar Pradesh)” … During this month of Ramzan abounding in miracles, the Emperor as the promoter of justice and overthrower of mischief, as the knower of truth and destroyer of oppression, as the zephyr of the garden of victory and the reviver of the faith of the Prophet, ISSUED ORDERS FOR THE DEMOLITION OF THE TEMPLE SITUATED IN MATHURA FAMOUS AS THE DEHRA OF KESHO RAI. In the short time by the great exertions of his officers the DESTRUCTION OF THIS STRONG FOUNDATION OF INFIDELITY WAS ACCOMPLISHED AND ON ITS SITE A LOFTY MOSQUE WAS BUILT at the expenditure of a large sum…”” …Praised be the August God of the faith of Islam, that in the auspicious reign of this DESTROYER OF INFIDELITY AND TURBULENCE, such a wonderful and seemingly impossible work was successfully accomplished. On seeing this instance of strength of the Emperor’s faith and the grandeur of his devotion to God, the proud Rajas were stifled and in amazement they stood like images facing the wall. THE IDOLS, LARGE AND SMALL SET WITH COSTLY JEWELS WHIC HAD BEEN SET UP IN THE TEMPLE WERE BROUGHT TO AGRA AND BURIED UNDER THE STEPS OF THE MOSQUE OF BEGUM SAHIB, IN ORDER TO BE CONTINUALLY TRODDEN UPON. The name of Mathura was changed to Islamabad. …”Khandela (Rajasthan)” … Darab Khan who had been sent with a strong force to punish the Rajputs of Khandela and TO DEMOLISH THE GREAT TEMPLE OF THE PLACE, attacked on March 8th/Safar 5th, and slew the three hundred and odd men who made a bold defence, not one of them escaping alive. THE TEMPLES OF KHANDELA AND SANULA AND ALL OTHER TEMPLES IN THE NEIGHBOURHOOD WERE DEMOLISHED …”Jodhpur (Rajasthan)” … On 24th Rabi S. (Sunday, May 25th), Khan Jahan Bahadur came from Jodhpur, AFTER DEMOLISHING THE TEMPLES and bringing with himself some cart-loads of idols, and had audience of the Emperor, who higly praised him and ordered that the idols, which were mostly jewelled, golden, silver, bronze, copper, or stone, should be cast in the yard (jilaukhanah) of the Court AND UNDER THE STEPS OF THE JAMA MOSQUE, TO BE TRODDEN UPON…”Udaipur (Rajasthan)” … Ruhullah Khan and Ekkataz Khan WENT TO DEMOLISH THE GREAT TEMPLE in front of the Rana’s palace, which was one of the rarest buildings of the age and the chief cause of the destruction of the life and property of the despised worshippers. Twenty ‘machator’ Rajputs who were sitting in the Temple vowed to give up their lives; first one of them came out to fight, killed some and was them himself slain, then came out another and so on, until every one of the twenty perished, after killing a large number of the imperialists including the trusted slave Ikhlas. The Temple was found empty. THE HEWERS BROKE THE IMAGES. …”” …On Saturday, the 24th January, 1680 (2nd Muharram), the Emperor went to view lake Udaisagar, constructed by the Rana, AND ORDERED ALL THE THREE TEMPLES ON ITS BANKS TO BE DEMOLISHED. …”” …On the 29th January/7th Muharram, Hasan Ali Khan brought to the Emperor twenty camel-loads of tents and other things captured from the Rana’s Palace and REPORTED THAT ONE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY-TWO OTHER TEMPLES IN THE ENVIRONS OF UDAIPUR HAD BEEN DESTROYED. The Khan received the title of Bahadur Alamgirshahi…”Amber (Rajasthan)“… Abu Turab, who had been SENT TO DEMOLISH THE TEMPLES of AMBER, returned to the Court on Tuesday August 10th (Rajab 24th), and reported that HE HAD PULLED DOWN SIXTY-SIX TEMPLES. …”Bijapur (Karnataka)” … Hamiduddin Khan Bahadur WHO HAD GONE TO DEMOLISH A TEMPLE AND BUILD A MOSQUE (IN ITS PLACE) in Bijapur, having excellently carried his orders, came to court and gained praise and the post of darogha of gusulkhanah, which brought him near the Emperor’s person…”General Text“…LARGE NUMBERS OF PLACES OF WORSHIP OF THE INFIDELS AND GREAT TEMPLES OF THESE WICKED PEOPLE HAVE BEEN THROWN DOWN AND DESOLATED. Men who can see only the outside of things are filled with wonder at the successful accomplishment of such a seemingly difficult task. AND ON THE SITES OF THE TEMPLES LOFTY MOSQUES HAVE BEEN BUILT…”Cruel Muslims Killing Hindus, Sikhs under aurangzeb4. “Akhbarat” Account on Temple Destruction by Terrorist AurangzebThese were reports from different provinces compiled in the reign of Aurangzeb.Excerpts:Muhiyu’d-Din Muhammad Aurangzeb ‘Alamgir Padshah Ghazi (1658-1707)Mathura (Uttar Pradesh)” … The emporer learning that in the temple of Keshav Rai at Mathura there was a stone railing presented by Dara Shikoh, remarked, ‘In the Muslim faith it is a sin even to look at a temple, and this Dara Shikoh had restored a railing in a temple. This fact is not creditable to the Muhammadans. REMOVE THE RAILING.’ By his order Abdun Nabi Khan (the faujdar of Mathura) REMOVED IT…”This is just a tiny glimpse into the kind of monster he was. I have not included his memoirs and court historians gloating records of thousands of incidents where he mass murdered hindus. Those muslims, who in the review section have voted this book as 5 star, trust me guys, the kaafir understands everything, you can sugarcoat it all you want. We know what we are to you. Ref:1. Ahmad, Qeyamuddin (ed.), “Patna through the Ages”, New Delhi, 1988.2. “Alberuni’s India”, translated by E.C. Sachau, New Delhi Reprint, 1983.3. Attar, Shykh Faridu’d-Din, “Tadhkirat al-Awliya”, translated into Urdu by Maulana Z.A. Usmani.4. Bloch J., “Indian Studies”, London, 1931.5. Chuvin, Pierre, “A Chronicle of the Last Pagans”, Harvard, 1990.6. Durrant, Will, “The Story of Civilization”, New York, 1972.7. Elliot and Dowson, “History of India as told by its own Historians”, 8 volumes, Allahbad Reprint, 1964.8. “First Encyclopedia of Islam”9. “Futuhat-i-Alamgiri” by Ishwardas Nagar, trans. into English by Tasneem Ahmad, Delhi, 1978.10. Growse, F.S. “Mathura: A District Memoir”, Reprint, Ahmedabad, 1978.11. Hosain, Saiyid Safdar, ” The Early History of Islam,” Vol. I, Delhi Reprint, 1985.12. “Jami Tirmizi,” Arabic text with Urdu translation by Badi’al-Zaman, Vol. I, New Delhi, 1983.13. “Kitab Futuh Al-Buldan” of Al-Biladhuri, translated into English by F.C. Murgotte, New York, 1924.14. “Maasir-i-Alamgiri” of Saqi Must’ad Khan, translated into English and annotated by Sir Jadunath Sarkar, Calcutta, 1947.15. “Makke Madine di Goshati”, edited by Dr. Kulwant Singh, Patiala, 1988.16. “The Rehala of Ibn Battuta,” translated into English by Mahdi Hussain, Baroda, 1976.17. Sarkar, Jadunath, “History of Aurangzeb,” 3 Volumes, Calcutta, 1972, 73.

  • Haaris Mateen
    2019-03-19 20:16

    Boy, was this guy a complex person. The best thing about heated public debates is that it pushes scholars to dig deeper to resolve thorny arguments in the public sphere. Truschke does a great job in writing a fast-paced, highly readable account that I'd recommend to anyone. What it paints is a portrait of a man who was firstly driven by a ruthless sense of ambition, followed by an inconsistent desire to act "just" (easily superseded by that ambition) set in the historical context of Empires and dynasties. Enhances knowledge without weighing you down by dry details (or tedious footnotes). Aurangzeb ruled for almost 50 years leaving behind a contentious legacy. This book's a good reference to know why.

  • Bablu Nonia
    2019-03-16 20:01

    "Someone Else’s Sins Will Not Justify Your Sins"The author desperately tried to defend Aurangzeb by just saying those where common practice at that time, given the opportunity Dara Shukoh would did the same. Most idiotic thing she wrote that Hindu Kings also demolished Temples or other religious institute.Irony is that she wrote a line that sometimes changing facts to suit the author's tastes.Peace!!

  • Sankarshan
    2019-03-25 20:15

    A well produced volume, almost monograph sized - focusing specifically on the modern narrative around Aurangzeb and providing a solid list of reading material should one decide to follow through and learn more. This is certainly not claiming to be an exhaustive "biography" or, "study". Rather, the salient aspects which cover a broad sweep of what it meant to be an emperor of the dynasty are well put together. Very timely publication.

  • Rubal
    2019-03-11 19:15

    Hindutva's grasp on history is delusional af. I loved how the author dragged it. This is a well-written book especially the parts about not reading the Rajputs, Marathas v/s Mughals conflict on communal lines and her explanations about sources and how to critically read them. It also cleared up a lot of my misconceptions regarding Aurangzeb's stance on music, festivals, employing minorities etc. BUT it's extremely curious to me that she hasn't delved into Sikh historian's assessment of Aurangzeb. And some reviews have brought up conflicting points. So, for now, he still remains trash IMO. Anyway, i'm bored of this long-dead king who is frankly kinda boring and culturally not as relevant but still hogging so much footage thanks to the victim complex of pseudo-historians on the RW Hindu twitter.

  • Avishek Bhattacharjee
    2019-03-19 17:21

    Aurangzeb was a man of his times, not ours.He was a man of studied contrasts and perplexing features.He did not hesitate to slaughter family members, or rip apart enemies, literally as was the case with Sambhaji.At the same time he swed prayer caps by hand and professed a desire to lead a pious muslim life.He was a connoisseur of music and even fell in love with HIrabai but beginning in midlife, deprived himself to the pleasure of musical arts.He built the largest mosque in the world but chose to be buried in an unmarked grave.He died having expanded the Mughal kingdom to its greatest extent in history and yet feared utter failure.Aurangzeb was a fascinating puzzle.This book is a must read to understand the complex man of India's medieval past

  • Dhanya Narayanan
    2019-03-04 23:10

    This book with 216 pages can be read at one go, unlike most historical texts, without any interruption created by confusing facts or complicated sentences. It gives an avant-garde perspective on Aurangzeb, who was the sixth Mughal Emperor held responsible for igniting the collapse of the Mughal Empire in India. The author, Audrey Truschke is an assistant professor of South Asian history at Rutgers University in New Jersey who focuses on the cultural, imperial and intellectual history of early modern and modern India. In her first book titled, ‘Culture of Encounters: Sanskrit at the Mughal Court’, she investigates the role of Sanskrit in Persian speaking Islamic Mughal courts.Since I have not read history as a subject after high school, I recognise that I am not in a position to give any comment regarding the authenticity of the content of this book. Since I have not read any standard reference history text on this subject, I am ignorant about the other plausible factual historical narratives. But I adore the author for her intelligent arguments and objective treatment of the subject. With the precision of writing a scientific paper, the author has made her postulation against the popular notion of Aurangzeb as a perpetuator of violence and utmost cruelty. But her language and writing style is not monotonous and boring, making it an interesting read even for a fiction lover. Truschke tries to provide a realistic view about the human being Aurangzeb was, by maintaining a neutral tone throughout. She makes another significant argument that, to judge a ruler of an ancient era by the standards of modern society is nothing but illogical.This book is important in this era where fanatics find fault with Kareena and Saif Ali Khan for naming their son as Taimur(Timur was a Turco Mongol conqueror and great-great-great grandfather of Babur). This book needs to be circulated in our country where people feel ‘Aurangzeb road’ is ‘cruel’ and has to be renamed. (This happened in 2015, when Aurangzeb Road in New Delhi was renamed as APJ Abdul Kalam Road). This book should be discussed in our country where it has been proposed to rename Dalhousie road in New Delhi after Dara Shikoh, brother of Aurangzeb, who is supposed to be ‘kind hearted’ and a better human being. (Fact is that all four sons of Shah Jahan were involved in the dirty war to climb the Peacock Throne). Portrayal of Mughal rulers especially Babar and Aurangzeb as ‘Muslim traitors’ is nothing but distortion of historical facts and seasoned politicians are using it for political gains by inciting hatred among citizens of this country . Truschke does not attempt a one-to-one argument against the existing beliefs. Instead she approaches it with the earnestness of an inquisitive enquirer and comes up with an alternate narrative which would help us to view Aurangzeb in a different light. The two star rating on Amazon and the 3.5 star rating on Goodreads that this book has got, reflects the tolerance level and understanding of our people who never leave a chance to boast about the ‘all-encompassing , tolerant and non violent Hindu culture’! This book is a must read to appreciate the techniques historians use to substantiate their arguments and to reaffirm the fact that history is not only about the past but also essentially about the present.

  • Sadiq Kazi
    2019-03-11 23:19

    The much maligned emperor deserves much more writing...much more investigation...and much more analysis. Unfortunately, much of what we have known so far is history as written for the modern times, and truth may become coloured with what modernity wants to read from it. This is one small attempt...I wouldn't say to correct the situation. But history owes it...that we know more about this enigmatic king who has been conveniently maligned in recent times.

  • kaśyap
    2019-03-22 01:05

    This is actually a very short work that provides a sweeping overview of some prominent aspects of Aurangzeb (Badshah Alamgir) of Hindustan. But then again the author's aim apparently is not to provide a comprehensive biography, but to provide a counter to the dominant imperial and nationalistic narratives that paint him as a religious zealot, a convenient demon for the vested interests of British colonialism and now Hindu nationalism. But as often is the case, Auragzeb and his reign are a lot more complex than his modern simplistic portraits and the author does a good job of showing it.

  • Arun Thayalan
    2019-03-20 22:13

    A compelling read.. It dispels many myths about the emperor who is perceived as the Destroyer of Hindu temples and Hinduism (which allegedly lead to destruction of the empire itself..) Unlike other history books, Audrey Truschke has taken care to give all the available versions of an incident and suggests which might be the most logical one and why. A fitting academic rebuttal to modern day Hindutva based (hi)story writers.. Most positive of all... It's written in a lucid simple language we would be able to read the entire book within 3 hours..

  • Surabhi
    2019-03-22 22:06

    It's a wonderfully nuanced portrait of Emperor Aurangzeb . The book , for me , was like a conversation with the author , about her views on various aspects of the Emperor's rule , his campaigns , his letters , various royal orders . It left me wanting read more about this era of history . It's extremely well researched.

  • Ravi
    2019-03-24 18:12

    Despite its erratic style, it does address certain myths about Aurangzeb. Short and academic writing doesn't make it a great book though. A biography deserves more, it deserves analysis and in depth discussion about the person and his outlook.

  • Yasir Malik
    2019-02-28 21:53

    A very readable and thin volume. Clears the air about many issues related to Aurangzeb the Mughal king. As the notes illustrate, the book is well researched and the rigors of the research are not carried into the text which is simple and crisp. Good effort to get the debate going about one of the most controversial rulers of Mughal India.

  • Divakar
    2019-03-21 21:12

    History in India suffers from a perception extremity. Either a king is good and great or he is vile and terrible. Sadly, there is no middle path to understand the subtle shades of grey. Also our views are colored by the early historians who were mostly British (and possibly on the payroll of the company!) or later day Indian historians who came with their own baggage of political bias ( Pandit Nehru included !) and presented us a history as they interpret and not history as it happened.Tipu Sultan is a famous victim. Rarely do you read anything good about him from the British Historians….since the poor man sought the support of the French to defeat the British….possibly history’s greatest victim of a biased and prejudiced presentation is Aurangzeb. Till today, I haven’t read anything favorable about him…..and the long list of selective facts dished out to us to color our perceptions and sharpen our prejudices.. Pandit Nehru and his ‘Glimpses of World History’ where the sixth Mughal emperor was chronicled in a very biased manner paved the way for our perceptions…..and all our school history books are a reflection of Nehru’s world view…and we all grew up believing that Aurangzeb was evil incarnate.He jailed his father and killed some of his brothers who were competing for the throne, he killed the much revered Guru Tej Bahadur Singh, he imposed the Jijiya tax, razed multiple temples. Well, this was how the World was in those days, of conquering kings who eliminated all competition to the throne, persecuted the conquered populace, converted them to their religion and decimated all symbols of the conquered’s faith, imposed arbitrary taxes…the list is endless….possibly most of the Mughal Kings were guilty of all of the above, to some degree.Audrey Truschke, a young Ph.D scholar who teaches South Asian history at Rutgers gives her own spin digging out historical facts which balance the biased world view of Aurangzeb. Book is replete with instances which may force us to rethink our view on Aurangzeb……of a man who ensured the translation of the Hindu epics to Persian so that it gets a wider audience, of a king who had a lot of trusted Hindu advisers and many more facts which show him as a balanced king and possibly one of the better Mughal rulers.It is not my intention to present a new version of Aurangzeb as a good and great king….my only hope is that people read multiple points of view, research as many data points as possible before arriving at conclusions. At the end of it, if you conclude that Aurangzeb was after all one of the worse kings – so be it.In my view…if Aurangzeb could be held most guilty of…it is over ambition and hubris.….Was on a conquering spree without setting up the infrastructure for governing the conquered territories well which sowed the seeds for the disintegration of the Moghul empire…….the birth of the Asaf Jahi dynasty in the Deccan owes its origins to the stretched Moghul empire…..and the ambitious generals who were trusted to manage but not reined in well.My only complaint on this well written book is that it is too short. Sub 200 pages in big font….actually would fit into 100 pages. A more detailed and comprehensive book would have helped the author with more heft to present a contrarian point of view, which she endeavors to.One may not agree with all that is in the book but it provides an interesting and different point of view…..now I must read a more detailed book on this misunderstood and much maligned king…any recommendations ?

  • Shashank Sourav
    2019-03-23 23:18

    I feel good that I've read this book it gave me different perspective to see Aurangzeb being an Indian it was hard for me to see Aurangzeb from this point but it was good.

  • Dipra Lahiri
    2019-03-24 00:16

    A very controversial book in India at the moment, with battle lines drawn between the left and the right. Seems to me that the fundamental reason for the differences in views, is the manner in which historical figures and events are to be interpreted. The author attempts to examine Aurangzeb in the context of the 17th century, while her critics perhaps are more influenced by modern political complexities. The book itself reads easy, and is a good introduction to the 50+ years of Aurangzeb's reign and his long life, key episodes being his accession to power, the ongoing fights with the Marathas and his Deccan campaigns. As the author says somewhere, she does not expect this book to be the last or definitive account of Aurangzeb.

  • Padmini
    2019-03-16 18:00

    Audrey Truschke's flowy writing style is not the only defining element of her academic writing. The amount of depth that has gone into this book's research is unbelievable. She debunks the Aurangzeb myth, and presents to us an alternative account which, in my humble opinion, is utterly necessary in this exceedingly intolerant atmosphere we're becoming accustomed to.I'm going to say this again, absolutely blown by the extent of primary sources she's used to justify her findings. It was good historical writing, and I would strongly recommend anyone wanting an argument against "OMG Aurangzeb broke Hindu Temples" to go through this.

  • Shweta Mehrotra
    2019-03-07 01:05

    History simplified. Person simplified. Aurangzeb, the mighty arrogant ruler unveiled. Shown from a different lens, one wonders and has so many questions left to be answered. Maybe he was misjudged. Maybe not. To find out more, you've got to unlearn all that was taught in school about him and start on a fresh new page. Know him and then judge him. He may not have been righteous but so weren't the other Mughals.

  • Akshaj Awasthi
    2019-02-25 18:14

    A very insightful, unbiased opinion on the last Great Mughal. The author tries her best to keep a balanced opinion,and does a good job at it. The book also appeals to the layman,with a brisk and engaging narration style which is rare in the non fiction of today. A must read for any Indian and non Indian who wishes to see past the jargon of the current saffron clad era of India.

  • Vipul Vivek
    2019-03-10 00:12

    In an accessible language, Truschke not only introduces lay as well as academic readers to the latest research on Aurangzeb but also subtly introduces the less serious history enthusiasts to historiography and pitfalls of anachronistic readings of the past for the purposes of the present.

  • Ridwan Anam
    2019-03-01 19:18

    Impartial, unbiased, specific and to the point. But too brief to contain every aspect in details of the life of last Great Mughal. 8/10.

  • Rama
    2019-03-07 00:19

    There has never been a need to subscribe to the extreme right-wing notion of Indian history. And this is especially true when dealing with Aurangzeb. The need to measure the greatness of historical figures by their contributions to modern "Hindu" or democratic "secular" notions is quite laughable. So much so that children seem to get this more than serious adults. My now 11 year old nephew has claimed that Aurangzeb is his favourite Mughal emperor ever since he turned 8, particularly because it generates violent reactions from adult circles. And this is just from the minor chapters on Aurangzeb in textbooks. Most of the criticisms directed at Dr. Audrey Truschke have come from traditionalists who accuse her of painting Aurangzeb as having exemplified "secularism" and advocated "syncretism" --something that is possible only in Hindus. And there is a cross-border agreement among Indian liberals and conservatives alike that Aurangzeb stood out as a bigot, especially when measured against his illustrious predecessors who allegedly held loftier ideals. The funniest part, as usual, is that a lot of online criticisms have come from people who have clearly not read this work. A lot of the criticisms and the prejudiced perspectives have actually been answered here. More importantly, Aurangzeb is not judged through modern perspectives and his acts of violence and illiberality are shown to have political motivations that, on occasions, even overtook religious ones.While the sources (a lot of them primary) consulted are listed in detail at the end, one concern, obviously, is the brevity of the project. I guess that Dr. Truschke is coming up with more clarifications soon. Other aspects such as the percentage of Hindus among Mughal nobles could be worked on more. Dr. Truschke says that the number of noble Hindus under Aurangzeb's payroll skyrocketed by 50% to 30+% of all nobles during his intrigues in the Deccan area from 21.6% in the early period of his reign. This could very well be seen as a political stratagem. Further, Dr. Truschke shows Shivaji to have had Sanskrit-based aims and, simultaneously, to have employed Muslims in his administration. If appropriate sources are available, the percentage game here would have been very useful to compare with Aurangzeb and the Mughals. "Communal" comparisons for getting rid of bigotry is useful I guess.Jadunath Sarkar and the right, the liberal Jawaharlal Nehru, and Mohammed Iqbal and Shahid Nadeem of Pakistan are not spared for spreading the "popular perceptions" about Aurangzeb. To be fair to Dr. Truschke, she never tries to secularize Aurangzeb throughout, much to the chagrin of the rabble-rousers waiting to pick at scraps.

  • Mahinn
    2019-03-04 21:22

    Audrey Truschke makes some compelling arguments in favour of the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb; through various examples and written evidence she offers us a fresh perspective on a controversial and often reviled figure. I have to say I have tremendous respect for her insight and balanced perspective. One point that she makes persuasively is an entreaty to reconsider our condemnation of Aurangzeb - complex, multi-faceted king - based on modern Indian politics and the aggressive Hindu-Muslim narrative. Which is to say that we cannot afford to judge or hold dogmatic views when looking over our shoulder into the past. For surely, we cannot claim to know or even entirely comprehend every facet, incentive, or reason for why things happened the way they did, much less the minds of those who decided the course of history. Quite right. I had great expectations of this book and when I began it seemed as though they would be met. However about 70 pages in I realised that this is not all that it was cut out to be. For one, this is too brief a book to offer a complete portrait of too complex ruler. At many points in the book the author seemed merely to skim the surface of what were salient points of discussion and study. It was a little frustrating but I do not say that as criticism, for I believe the objective and agenda of this biography was something entirely different. Many times in the course of reading I felt like the author made some really critical points but was not able to explore them further. I wish she had because hers is a sane voice amidst the clamour and raised voices over communalism and modern India’s Hindutva agenda. What also occurred to me was that this book was a response of sorts, an academic docket of evidence, that sought to put right the polarised ideas and biases surrounding this enigmatic emperor of Hindustan. Modern day takes on Aurangzeb rest usually at extremes of a spectrum where he is portrayed as a religious Hindu-hating bigot, a tyrannical ruler, a merciless murderer, and a man whose ambition and lust for power supersede all notions of justice and fair reign. Another school of thought paints him as a brilliant strategist and accomplished general whose military tactics helped to consolidate the largest kingdom under Mughal rule before him or after. All said, I’m glad I read this book. I’m always looking for logic, and compassion in arguments to help me form a more balanced and complete idea of things. It is immaterial whether you agree or disagree with Audrey Truschke. What matters is that you allow yourself the privilege of knowledge. And this book goes a little way to close the gap of ignorance.

  • Manish
    2019-03-17 23:54

    The 18th century Mughal ruler Aurangzeb is an enigma. For many, he was a tyrant, intolerant of other religions and someone who mercilessly executed his own brother Dara Shikoh during the war of succession. With Dara Shikoh having had a more cosmopolitan attitude and fascination towards the Hindu scriptures, it’s always been easy to paint Aurangzeb as the villain. In this short and concise work, Audrey Truschke analyses some of the common perceptions associated with the longest serving Mughal emperor and through a scholarly analysis of multiple texts and accounts from the period, tries to paint a more balanced picture of the man. In spite of the opportunity to raze hundreds of Hindu temples, Aurangzeb is proven to have demolished not more than a dozen. The percentage of Hindu nobles in his courts was at an all-time high during his reign. His attachment to the concept of justice and his non-lenient attitude towards his own sons could be seen as magnanimity. On the Dara Shikoh episode, what’s interesting is to note that had Aurangzeb lost in the war of succession, his own fate would have been similar. It’s high time for us to move on to more pressing issues facing us – poverty, healthcare and social security for instance. As Truschke reminds us, pre-modern rulers cannot and should not be judged by our modern notions of justice and ‘fair play’.

  • Prateek Sharma
    2019-03-01 22:22

    According to the Author "Current popular visions of Aurangzeb are more fiction than reality". The book is an attempt to present this enigmatic and politically relevant figure in an alternative light."Aurangzeb was a complex emperor whose life was shaped by assortment of sometimes conflicting desires and motivations, including power, justice, piety, and the burden of mughal Kingship rather than religion alone". Whether it is destruction of temples or killing of sikh/hindu leaders, Truschke tries to debunk so called "communal" actions of Aurangzeb popular with the mass today. She goes on proving her point by explaining the contemporary context and looking at the events by political lense and a careful interpretation of persian and sanskrit texts of those times. Storytelling mode of the book keeps it from becoming a monotonous read. While being a bit thin on evidence the book provides starting point for the vast amount of further research that can be done in this direction.