Aurengzeb Emperor:? Bad Ruler or Bad History

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gOf all the Muslim rulers who ruled vast territories of India from 712 to 1857 C.E., probably no one generates as much controversy as Aurangzeb. He has been hailed as anyone from a “Saintly or Pauper Emperor” to one who “tried hard to convert Hindus into Muslims.” Depending on one’s religious rearing, one will favor one view over the other. For example, most Hindus castigate Aurangzeb as a religious Muslim, who was anti-Hindu, who taxed them, who tried to convert them, who discriminated them away from high administrative positions, who interfered in their religious matters. On the other hand, Muslims consider him to be one of the best rulers who was a pious, scholarly, saintly, magnanimous, tolerant, competent and far-sighted ruler. To prove the view of the former group, a close scrutiny of the Government-approved text books in schools and colleges across post-partition India (i.e., after 1947) is sufficient. The second group depends mostly on pre-colonial (and some pre-partition) history, land-grant deeds and other available records. It is difficult to untangle this historical mess without scrutinizing the accusations against Aurangzeb rationally. Fortunately, in recent years quite a few Hindu historians have come out in the open disputing those allegations. For example, historian Babu Nagendranath Banerjee rejected the accusation of forced conversion of Hindus by Muslim rulers by stating that if that was their intention then in India today there would not be nearly four times as many Hindus compared to Muslims, despite the fact that Muslims had ruled for nearly a thousand years. Banerjee challenged the Hindu hypothesis that Aurangzeb was anti-Hindu by reasoning that if the latter were truly guilty of such bigotry, how could he appoint a Hindu as his military commander-in-chief? Surely, he could have afforded to appoint a competent Muslim general in that position. Banerjee further stated: “No one should accuse Aurangzeb of being communal minded. In his...
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