It is High Time We Discarded the Pernicious Myth of India’s Medieval Muslim ‘Villains’

Whatever happened in the past, religious-based violence is real in modern India, and Muslims are frequent targets. It is thus disingenuous to single out Indian Muslim rulers for condemnation without owning up to the modern valences of that focus.


Prince Aurangzeb facing a maddened elephant named Sudhakar, 1633.

Note: This article was first published on January 9, 2016. 

The idea that medieval Muslim rulers wreaked havoc on Indian culture and society – deliberately and due to religious bigotry – is a ubiquitous notion in 21st century India. Few people seem to realise that the historical basis for such claims is shaky to non-existent. Fewer openly recognise the threat that such a misreading of the past poses for modern India.

Aurangzeb, the sixth Mughal Emperor (r. 1658-1707), is perhaps the most despised of India’s medieval Muslim rulers. People cite various alleged “facts” about Aurangzeb’s reign to support their contemporary condemnation, few of which are true. For instance, contrary to widespread belief, Aurangzeb did not destroy thousands of Hindu temples. He did not perpetrate anything approximating a genocide of Hindus. He did not instigate a large-scale conversion program that offered millions of Hindu the choice of Islam or the sword.

In short, Aurangzeb was not the Hindu-hating, Islamist tyrant that many today imagine him to have been. And yet the myth of malevolent Aurangzeb is seemingly irresistible and has captured politicians, everyday people, and even scholars in its net. The damage that this idea has done is significant. It is time to break this mythologized caricature of the past wide open and lay bare the modern biases, politics, and interests that have fuelled such a misguided interpretation of India’s Islamic history.

A recent article on this website cites a series of inflammatory claims about Indo-Muslim kings destroying premodern India’s Hindu culture and population. The article admits that “these figures are drawn from the air” and historians give them no credence. After acknowledging that the relevant “facts” are false, however, the article nonetheless posits that precolonial India was populated by “religious chauvinists,” like Aurangzeb, who perpetrated religiously-motivated violence and thus instigated “historical injustices” to which Hindus can rightly object today. This illogical leap from a confessed lack of reliable information to maligning specific rulers is the antithesis of proper history, which is based on facts and analysis rather than unfounded assumptions about the endemic, unchanging nature of a society.

A core aspect of the historian’s craft is precisely that we cannot assume things about the past. Historians aim to recover the past and to understand historical figures and events on their own terms, as products of their time and place. That does not mean that historians sanitise prior events. Rather we refrain from judging the past by the standards of the present, at least long enough to allow ourselves to glimpse the logic and dynamics of a historical period that may be radically different from our own.

Going back more than a millennium earlier, Hindu rulers were the first to come up with the idea of sacking one another’s temples, before Muslims even entered the Indian subcontinent. But one hears little about these “historical wrongs”

In the case of Indian Muslim history, a core notion that is hard for modern people to wrap our heads around is as follows: It was not all about religion.

Aurangzeb, for instance, acted in ways that are rarely adequately explained by religious bigotry. For example, he ordered the destruction of select Hindu temples (perhaps a few dozen, at most, over his 49-year reign) but not because he despised Hindus. Rather, Aurangzeb generally ordered temples demolished in the aftermath of political rebellions or to forestall future uprisings. Highlighting this causality does not serve to vindicate Aurangzeb or justify his actions but rather to explain why he targeted select temples while leaving most untouched. Moreover, Aurangzeb also issued numerous orders protecting Hindu temples and communities from harassment, and he incorporated more Hindus into his imperial administration than any Mughal ruler before him by a fair margin. These actions collectively make sense if we understand Aurangzeb’s actions within the context of state interests, rather than by ascribing suspiciously modern-sounding religious biases to him.

Regardless of the historical motivations for events such as premodern temple destructions, a certain percentage of modern Indians nonetheless feel wronged by their Islamic past. What is problematic, they ask, about recognising historical injustices enacted by Muslim figures? In this regard, the contemporaneity of debates over Indian history is crucial to understanding why the Indo-Islamic past is singled out.

For many people, condemnations of Aurangzeb and other medieval Indian rulers stem not from a serious assessment of the past but rather from anxieties over India’s present and future, especially vis-à-vis its Muslim minority population. After all, one might ask: If we are recognising injustices in Indian history, why are we not also talking about Hindu rulers? When judged according to modern standards, medieval rulers the world over measure up poorly, and Hindu kings are no exception. Medieval Hindu political leaders destroyed mosques periodically, for instance, including in Aurangzeb’s India. Going back more than a millennium earlier, Hindu rulers were the first to come up with the idea of sacking one another’s temples, before Muslims even entered the Indian subcontinent. But one hears little about these “historical wrongs” for one reason: They were perpetrated by Hindus rather than Muslims.

Religious bigotry may not have been an overarching problem in India’s medieval past, but it is a crucial dynamic in India’s present. Religious-based violence is real in modern India, and Muslims are frequent targets. Non-lethal forms of discrimination and harassment are common. Fear is part of everyday life for many Indian Muslims.  Thus, when scholars compare medieval Islamic rulers like Aurangzeb to South Africa’s twentieth-century apartheid leaders, for example, they not only display a surprising lack of commitment to the historical method but also provide fodder for modern communal fires.

It is high time we discarded the pernicious myth of India’s medieval Muslim villains. This poisonous notion imperils the tolerant foundations of modern India by erroneously positing religious-based conflict and Islamic extremism as constant features of life on the subcontinent. Moreover, it is simply bad history. India has a complicated and messy past, and we do it and ourselves no justice by flattening its nuances to reflect the religious tensions of the present.

Audrey Truschke is a historian at Rutgers University-Newark. Her first book, Culture of Encounters: Sanskrit at the Mughal Court was published by Columbia University Press and Penguin India in 2016. Her second book, Aurangzeb: The Man and The Myth, will published in February 2017 by Penguin India.

  • Sanjay A

    While I commend the Dr. Audrey for highlighting the anti-Muslim violence in India, I do not think her assessment of the current situation goes far enough to help us understand the contemporary situation. I particularly resent this sentence: “His poisonous notion imperils the tolerant foundations of modern India
    by erroneously positing religious-based conflict and Islamic extremism
    as constant features of life on the subcontinent”.

    This sentence falls into the liberal Brahmin trap of depicting the present-day violent Hindutva as an unnatural/extraordinary growth over an otherwise peaceful/tolerant/secular post-Independence India. As many Dalit scholars have pointed out, India has always been a violently anti-Dalit Brahminic formation. And following “independence”, we merely saw a transfer of power from British to the caste-elites.

    Therefore, Dr. Audrey’s earnest appeal to the liberal savarna conscience to consider that “Muslims are just like us” will get us nowhere. Modern-day Hindutva is merely a manifestation of Brahminism, and I hope Dr. Audrey focuses on how Hindu rulers were viciously anti-Dalit. I would also recommend Blindness of Insight, a book by Dilip Menon which talks about how the modern-day anti-Muslim communalism is merely an outgrowth of casteism, or “a deflection of the violence and inegalitarianism within Hindu society”.

    • BR

      A left colored comment. Learn to see society without the glasses given to you by the west. This savarna stuff is nonsense if you go back three to four centuries – you will learn that most caste groupings were quite fluid. The same with the article’s author too. If you wish to whitewash Aurangzeb, you should explain the court chronicles of Aurangzeb himself. You should explain the particularly malevolent ways he killed Guru Tegh Bahadur or his own brother, Dara Shikoh.

      • Ranjit

        Aurangzeb did not order the execution of Guru Teg Bahadur,it was the qazi who did so. Aurangzeb in fact was friend of the Guru before Jiziya was imposed after which the Guru critical of his policies. Aurangzeb invited him to the court to seek an explanation but was executed by the qazi. And Aurangzeb did kill Dara shekoh and also his two other brothers but had he not done so,his brothers would have killed him. And this was not uncommon at that time.this was happening for centuries. In fact this was the way a new emperor ascended the throne.Ashoka killed all of his brothers but one. And there are a lot more examples. And it was the mughal wazir of Lahore who betrayed and attacked Guru Gobind Singh repeatedly and Aurangzeb did order to attack Guru Gobind Singh once but it was not religious but out of political reasons when the kings of hills of nearby regions warned him of Guru’s growing power. And when Guru Gobind Singh wrote Zafarnama addressed to Aurangzeb and accused him of being morally weak and breaking his promise,Aurangzeb was remorseful and ordered his troops not to trouble the Guru anymore.

        • si91

          Even the official Mughal court record says that Teg Bahadur was executed on Aurangzeb’s order.

          • Ranjit

            Official accounts were written very later(about 100 years after the execution) and as the execution took place during Aurangzeb’s reign, he is held responsible for it. And there are other accounts also written around that time and they are contradictory with some of them even claiming that the Guru was saved by paying fine and murdered later!!

  • Sagar

    Which are thise Hindu rulers sacking each other temples are you talking about? What r the references?

  • srkris

    The author of the article needs to do more than just claim that Aurangazeb was not a religious tyrant and that much of India hates him (and others of his kind) for no reason other than an ignorance of history. Until then people are not going to take her seriously when she blithely rejects traditional interpretations of Indian history that have passed down across generations and are copiously documented in laudatory references in the works of Muslim authors of Aurangazeb’s time.

    How about displaying some academic rigor in refuting the claims of Muslim historians of the time, such as those mentioned at http://www.hindunet.org/hind…/modern/temple_aurangzeb.html ?

  • अहं ब्रह्म अस्मि

    Martyrdom of Guru Teg Bahadur to protect his dharma, martyrdom of the sons of Guru Gobind Singh, farmaans recording the events of destruction of temples can not just be wished away.
    Sacking of temples is no way near to their destruction, which was carried out by Islamic invaders (including Mughals).
    Stanford and Rutgers Universities would do the students a favor by getting rid of this ill-informed self-proclaimed historian of Indian sub-continent.

  • Radha Rajan

    “Pernicious myth”, “It is high time to discard”…at whom is this advice directed? Dear lady, you must first read what Will Durant has said about Islamic conquest of India and the accompanying genocide. Did you think all Muslims who came here were Kabuliwallahs of Tagore’s imagination or came to India singing sufi songs? There is much more but Will Durant not Irfan Habib should be your starting point about India.

  • Mohammed Baybars Mehdi

    It was not under Muslim rule India suffered, it was under British rule. Do your research.

    Hindu Chauvinism and Muslims in India By Murtahin Billah Jasir Fazlie

    The invasion of Sind by Muhammad Ibn Qasim al-Thaqafi in 713 A.D. was precipitated by the failure of Dahir, the ruler of Sind, to punish the pirates who had interfered with Muslim shipping near the coast of his province.[10] The Muslim kings and emperors who ruled over India for over one thousand years were not colonial rulers. Those who had gone there from other countries made the sub-continent their own home. They did not make any discrimination between religious communities but gave equal opportunity and ensured social justice to all irrespective of their religious affinity. In fact, the Muslim rulers-the Khaljis, the Lodis, the Syeds and the Mughals- kept the indigenous Muslims, who constituted the bulk of Indian Muslims, at a safe distance from the apparatus of power. In the words of Iqbal Ansari, “It is the greatest travesty of facts to call this period of dynastic rule of Persian and Turkish origin as Muslim rule. Islam did make its presence felt during this period on Indian social and cultural life. But Islam
    did not play a dominant role in statecraft. The conquest of India by Islam was again not on the agenda of the Muslim kings. Islam and its promotion was not even a major factor in state policies.”[11] This is well-established by the fact that although Delhi remained the capital of Muslim rulers for 647 years (1211-1858 A.D.), the Muslims were a small minority there throughout the
    period. According to the 1971 census, the Muslims of Delhi constituted only 7.8 percent of the total population of the city.[12] The bulk of the indigenous converted Muslims- artisans, craftsmen, and tillers- did not enjoy any privilege under the system of Muslim rule. Rather high caste groups from among Hindus enjoyed greater privileges under the patronage of the Muslim monarchies.
    In many cases, the most important jobs like those of ministers and chiefs of army were given to non-Muslims, especially Hindus.

    During Muslim rule, there was complete social peace and harmony all over the country. This is aptly proved by the fact that history fails to produce even a single instance of communal disturbance which took place during the period of Muslim rule. Communal disturbance is a phenomenon which came to be known in the sub-continent only during the British rule. This menace has emanated from the ‘divide and rule’ policy of the British colonial power.

    10. Encyclopedia of Islam, New Edition, vol. VII, Netherlands, 1991, p. 405.
    11. Iqbal A. Ansari, The Muslim Situation in India, New Delhi, 1989, p.12.
    12. Ausaf Ahmad, op. cit., p. 22.

    Muslim rulers deliberately projected as intolerant: Katju


    Supreme Court judge Markandey Katju on Sunday attributed simmering Hindu-Muslim tensions to a deliberate rewriting of history to project Muslim rulers as intolerant and bigoted, whereas ample evidence existed to show the reverse was true.

    The judge also said that Indians were held together by a common Sanskrit-Urdu culture which guaranteed that India would always remain secular.

    Justice Katju said the myth-making against Muslim rulers, which was a post-1857 British project, had been internalised in India over the years. Thus, Mahmud Ghazni’s destruction of the Somnath temple was known but not the fact that Tipu Sultan gave an annual grant to 156 Hindu temples. The judge, who delivered the valedictory address at a conference held to mark the silver jubilee of the Institute of Objective Studies, buttressed his arguments with examples quoted from D.N. Pande’s
    History in the Service of Imperialism.

    Dr. Pande, who summarised his conclusions in a lecture to members of the Rajya Sabha in 1977, had said: “Thus under a definite policy the Indian history textbooks were so falsified and distorted as to give an impression that the medieval period of
    Indian history was full of atrocities committed by Muslim rulers on their Hindu subjects and the Hindus had to suffer terrible indignities under Islamic rule.”

    Justice Katju said Dr. Pande came upon the truth about Tipu Sultan in 1928 while verifying a contention — made in a history textbook authored by Dr. Har Prashad Shastri, the then head of the Sanskrit Department in Calcutta University — that during
    Tipu’s rule 3,000 Brahmins had committed suicide to escape conversion to Islam. The only authentication Dr. Shastri could provide was that the reference was contained in the Mysore Gazetteer. But the Gazetteer contained no such reference.

    Further research by Dr. Pande showed not only that Tipu paid annual grants to 156 temples, but that he enjoyed cordial relations with the Shankaracharya of Sringeri Math to whom he had addressed at least 30 letters. Dr. Shastri’s book, which was in use at the time in high schools across India, was later de-prescribed. But the unsubstantiated allegation continued to masquerade as a fact in history books written later.

  • http://www.jangshant.com Jangshant Singh

    “Aurangzeb was not the Hindu-hating, Islamist tyrant that many today imagine him to have been” He did not perpetrate anything approximating a genocide of Hindus. He did not instigate a large-scale conversion program that offered millions of Hindu the choice of Islam or the sword.” .

    Really this kind of misinformation is dangerous. By your definition Guru Teg Bahadur died for nothing? “Peaceful” aurungzeb peacefully ordered to chop of head and burn alive and cut people in half?
    Guru Gobind Singh’s Chote Sahibjade died for nothing?

    They are were murdered in clod blood by writers beloved Auranga for not accepting islam and for protecting religious freedom of Hindus of India. Guru Teg Bahadur Sacrificed his life for Kashmiri Pandits, for India.

    • Sonita Kashyap

      well said! Sad part is that today many pro-Khalistanis have forgotten their past and are in cahoots with the mullahs!

    • tahir fazal

      some youth today shout slogans of Afzal guru & sedition charges are levelled against them. When Teg Bahadur was doing the same, Aurangzeb first warned him not to indulge religion into politics – not once but several times & he was doing this because he know that Teg Bahadur was a reverend leader in the north & north west of satlej/satluj region but when a religious leader becomes despotic & indulges in state affairs then the head of state has to take action. Read history & you’ll find this in hindu, sikh,muslim,christian & even buddhist history. so STOP ASSOCIATING RELIGION WITH its people. Enough people have lost their lives because of the stupidity that you are spitting out.

      • Jagga Daaku

        Even if for a moment I accept your views which I don’t…How do you explain the Gurus Sons be forced to embrace Islam ?
        How did they meddle with the state affairs so that ppl like you can justify it?


    Writer failed to convince as to why one should believe that Aurangazeb was not a religious begot and did not commit any religious atrocity.I am curious to know what are the names of those Hindu kings who she was alluding to.This article seems to be a well concocted story catered to people to enjoy as a fiction.Ma’am where is the substance in it ?This was a sort of opinionated piece like a lay man.If you want to establish something as a matter of fact and want people to believe the otherside of the coin then you have to show it to the people and have to be armed with facts,rather than arguing like a emotionely charged person.
    I hope ,next time you will come up with some convincing arguments!

  • artboxone

    Irfan Husain in his article “Demons from the Past” observes:

    “While historical events should be
    judged in the context of their times, it cannot be denied that even in that
    bloody period of history, no mercy was shown to the Hindus unfortunate enough
    to be in the path of either the Arab conquerors of Sindh and south Punjab, or
    the Central Asians who swept in from Afghanistan…The Muslim heroes who figure
    larger than life in our history books committed some dreadful crimes. Mahmud of
    Ghazni, Qutb-ud-Din Aibak, Balban, Mohammed bin Qasim, and Sultan Mohammad Tughlak,
    all have blood-stained hands that the passage of years has not cleansed .Seen
    through Hindu eyes, the Muslim invasion of their homeland was an unmitigated

    “Their temples were razed, their idols
    smashed, their women raped, their men killed or taken slaves. When Mahmud of
    Ghazni entered Somnath on one of his annual raids, he slaughtered all 50,000
    inhabitants. Aibak killed and enslaved hundreds of thousands. The list of
    horrors is long and painful. These conquerors justified their deeds by claiming
    it was their religious duty to smite non-believers. Cloaking themselves in the
    banner of Islam, they claimed they were fighting for their faith when, in
    reality, they were indulging in straightforward slaughter and pillage…”

  • Nanda Kishore N

    There was a point in History when Buddhism was just as intolerant about Hindus as Islam today. But that doesn’t negate the atrocities by Mughal emperors like Shahjahan and Aurangazeb. Of the two tyrants the son might look tame than the wretched father.

  • Aqeel Siddique

    Love the article. So cogently and clearly articulated. Her read on how to study and understand history is nuanced, insightful and downright brilliant. Author also argues her position from a clear understanding of getting to the truth.


    It was more like Indian army laying siege to the Golden temple and trying to remove terrorists within. From the Indian state’s point of view people inside are a threat to the centralized authority; same is what happened in Aurangzeb’s time. If the tenth Guru tried establishing his own rule, minting his own coins -the state will not remain a silent spectator. On the other hand many Punjabis have put the label of Mughals on Muslims even if they were petty soldiers or even if they were Muslims from the South. Muslims have been at the receiving end of hatred from Sikh soldiers especially during the 1857 revolt, though more than 2 centuries had passed by then. These are the hatreds perpetuated by a narrow view of history and that is what is being said in this article.

    Sure in some ways every ruler or state acts cruelly towards those who try to attain independence. The state is criticized when it carries out acts of vendetta, for example while trying to destroy others’ places of worship. Despite his victories from North to South Aurangzeb didn’t try to destroy either the Golden temple or the Portuguese churches or the world famous Hindu temples.He ruled for 55 years over a vast empire and he had ample opportunity to do that.

    • prashant

      Brilliantly articulated! I’ve read in Discovery of India, Bipan Chandra’s work and Irafan Habib’s work that revolt of 1857 didn’t show any trace of religious animosity among revolting soldiers. This is contrary to what you have articulated here. Could you please give me sources based on which you have claimed that “Muslims have been at the receiving end of hatred from Sikh soldiers especially during the 1857 revolt”.
      Thank you.

  • S.Thiyagarajan

    There is nothing wrong in admitting that there were muslim rulers like Auranga who were hindu haters and brutalised Fakirs and arranged large scale forced conversions, especially in Kashmir. It is only persons like the author who are twisting and turning history to satisfy their islamophilia and hinduphobia. For decades the left leaning so called historians were occupying plum posts in ICHR and other bodies and the author may be one of them. Let us be bold enough to admit historical facts and teach history as such and as it was. Dont try to create personalised history writinig. Of course what happened in mediavel Europe is inhuman in the form of slave trade, crusades for nothing but sheer brutality and inquisitions and lastly world war II where pogroms were sponsored by the govt.s themselves.not to speak of the colonisation and exploitation of the whole world and swindling of native wealth. Europeans were the worst human rights abusers historically and they inflicted untold sufferings on the human population world over.

  • si91

    That just means Aurangzeb was an equal opportunity killer. He killed his brother and imprisoned his father to seize power, and used that power to persecute Hindus. His execution of Tegh Bahadur is important because the Guru stood up to Aurangzeb’s persecution of the Kashmiri Pandits, which tells us how “mythical” Aurangzeb’s bigotry was.

  • hoverOver

    Reference please!

    • Josey Devan

      Ashoka.. Kalinga war.. Need any reference.?

  • Ranjit

    India has never been anti dalits??? Hahahaha I never laughed so hard in my life. Brits were responsible for the caste system??? Brits infact gave some dignity to the dalits by recruiting them without discrimination. A mindset like yours is responsible for the oppression of the dalits. You don’t want to accept the problem and without it there are no chances of emancipation of dalits.

  • si91

    The British didn’t have to invent anything. Everything from his letters to his generals to his very sword showed how much of a religious bigot he was, openly ordering forced conversions, circumcisions, and temple destruction. Like many Muslim kings he had to throw the Hindus a bone every once in a while in the form of court appointments to prevent a full scale revolt, but it is ridiculous to equate grudging acts rooted in pragmatism with genuine tolerance. Tolerant men don’t destroy temples for Allah.

  • https://www.peace.tv Popat

    Haa haa haa 🙂 u nailed it bro, u strewed that secular, arm-chair asce

    • NaveenD

      The population of India was more than three times the population of whole of EUROPE during WW2. And Hitler did what he did to minorities. India is and always was a Hindu majority nation, Its not hard for 10 million or even more considering it would have been 2-3 % of the population only.

  • https://www.peace.tv Popat

    So why a road on his name ? And why Muslims are supporting it ?

    • Symar_PK

      Sara’s point is that Aurangzeb was a crazy monarch who would do anything for power. What would you expect from a person who presented the heads of his brothers to his father in a lunch tray?

      the point is that a crazy person is a crazy person.. but we should NOT mis-use his “muslim” identity as an excuse to discriminate against Indian muslims today

      • Vijay Vikranth

        Really?? So why are you mis -using the politician’s “Hindu identity” as an excuse to cry discrimination of Muslims in India ? Why are you not able to apply the same logic in the present scenario too? a

      • Vijay Vikranth

        Really?? So why are you mis -using the politician’s “Hindu identity” as an excuse to cry discrimination of Muslims in India ? Why are you not able to apply the same logic in the present scenario too? a

  • si91

    Yes. Btw, that should be RNP Singh, not RPN, sorry for my typo.

  • Symar_PK

    delusions !! India is more muslim then pakistan. whatever the label may be, it really is state sponsored espionage. India, Pakistan, Russia, USA, and nearly all big countries are involved in such shameful tactics. if you feel satisfied labelling as a religious act you are only fooling urself. India itself is involved in a number of similar project 🙂

  • tahir fazal

    just as you said the author has not substantiated the claims -from where do you SUBSTANTIATE your claims. kindly do. please.

    • Someblah

      Here you go:

      [1] Richards, John F. (1996). The Mughal Empire. The New Cambridge History of India 5 (Reprinted ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 162. ISBN 9780521566032.
      [2] Brown, Katherine Butler (January 2007). “Did Aurangzeb Ban Music? Questions for the Historiography of his Reign”. Modern Asian Studies 41 (1): 77. doi:10.1017/S0026749X05002313.
      [3] Mukhia, Harbans. The Mughals of India. pp. 25–26.
      [4] Mukhia, Harbans. The Mughals of India. pp. 25–26.
      [5] David Cook, Martyrdom in Islam, (Cambridge University Press, 2007), pp. 80
      [6] Encyclopedia of World Trade: From Ancient Times to the Present
      A Comprehensive History of Medieval India: Twelfth to the Mid-Eighteenth Century By Farooqui Salma Ahmed
      [7] Islam in South Asia: A Short History By Jamal Malik
      [8] Mukhia, Harbans. The Mughals of India. pp. 25–26.

  • joe

    But they really were two separate set of ambitions certain things are motivated by time context and politics.

  • Constant Hope

    “He was a Prince every Way qualified for governing. None ever understood Politics better than he. The Balance of distributive Justice he held in an exact Equilibrium. He was brave and cunning in War, and merciful and magnanimous in Peace, temperate in his Diet and Recreations, and modest and grave in his Apparel, courteous in his Behaviour to his Subjects, and affable in his Discourse; He encouraged Virtue, and discountenanced Vice, and he studied the Laws of Humanity, and observed them as well as those of Religion, for, in that Part he inclined to Superstition.”
    [A description of the Great Indian Emperor, Aurangzeb, by the Scottish merchant, Alexander Hamilton, who resided and travelled in numerous countries in the East, and who did not hesitate in describing a country as being oppressive and repressive if he found it to be so. He resided and travelled in India for many years during the latter part of Aurangzeb’s reign, even fighting for the British East India Company in their short-lived war against the Great Emperor which ended in a crushing, humiliating defeat for the British.]

  • Vijay Vikranth

    You can quote Ashoka..that’s it. How about Mahmud and Masood Gahznavi? How about Muhammad Ghori? The mamluk sultans? The Khaljis? The Tughlaqs? Amir Timur?…….

  • Vijay Vikranth

    You can quote Ashoka..that’s it. How about Mahmud and Masood Gahznavi? How about Muhammad Ghori? The mamluk sultans? The Khaljis? The Tughlaqs? Amir Timur?…….

  • Vir Narain

    I have read Audrey Truschke’s Culture of Encounters, and greatly admired her scholarship. But here, with very liberal intentions, she is way off the mark. Just one extract from Timur’s own account of the sack of Delhi (and they can be multiplied a thousandfold from Mohammad bin Kasim on) would show how ridiculous the charge of ‘pernicious myth’ is.

    “When Friday morning dawned, my entire army, no longer under control, went off to the city and thought of nothing but killing, plundering, and making prisoners. The sack was general during the whole day, and continued throughout the following day, Saturday, the
    Page 218
    seventeenth (Dec. 27), the spoil being so great that each man secured from fifty to a hundred prisoners, men, women, and children, while no soldier took less than twenty. There was likewise an immense booty in rubies, diamonds, garnets, pearls, and other gems; jewels of gold and silver; gold and silver money of the celebrated Alai coinage; vessels of gold and silver; and brocades and silks of great value. Gold and silver ornaments of the Hindu women were obtained in such quantities as to exceed all account. Excepting the quarter of the Sayyids, the scholars, and the other Mussulmans, the whole city was sacked. The pen of fate had written down this destiny for the people of this city, and although I was desirous of sparing them, I could not succeed, for it was the will of God that this calamity should befall the city.
    On the following day, Sunday, it was brought to my knowledge that a great number of infidel Hindus had assembled in the Jami’ Masjid of Old Delhi, where they had carried arms and provisions, and had prepared to defend themselves. Some of my people who had gone that way on business were wounded by them, whereupon I immediately ordered Amir Shah Malik and Ali Sultan Tawachi to take a party of men and clear the house of God of infidels and idolaters. They accordingly attacked these infidels and put them to death, after which Old Delhi was plundered.”

  • Hannibal

    The war against Muslims of Golconda is explained very simply. The rulers of Golconda were Shia, Aurangzeb was a radical Sunni.

  • parijat chauhan

    Any source ?

  • Aditya Tyagi

    Readers should read the following “Negationism in India: Concealing the Record of Islam” by Koenraad Elst.

  • Morgana4

    Indian Muslims weren’t and aren’t foreigners. The Mughals were foreigners, they were Turkik peoples who invaded South Asia.

  • Rohini

    Very poor article. She provides NO references for her assertions. To say that Aurangzeb was not motivated by his religion is false. This sort of white washing of historical facts is counter productive. Just accept what happened, and the reasons it happened. NO need for whataboutery.

  • പ്രവീണ്

    You have to live in India to “experience” the history of the past that lies embedded in many places there… Instead of trying to do a makeup on Aurangazeb, write about Akbar or Dara Sukoh – they were truly men who transcended religious differences….that would be doing some good to humanity…

  • Dhairyasheel Jagtap

    Would the author explain this- “Aurangzeb generally ordered temples demolished in the aftermath of political rebellions or to forestall future uprisings”

  • qwerty

    Pretty sad with the state of affairs around us today – On a daily basis I hear or see religious stereotyping of muslims, rudeness or towards people who dress in a particular way, people making fun of dark complexioned individuals as ‘kallu’, express venom and resentment at SC/ST reservation (having a reasoned opinion is different from allowing hate and contempt of a group of people to grow in one’s mind), and basically everybody talking syrupy sweetly in front of each other, but everybody backbiting everybody else in their absence. Everywhere it’s an ‘us’ vs ‘them’ mentality. We are becoming pretty toxic and losing compassion and humanity.

  • JRajBali

    Read multiple sources from varying perspectives regarding the same subject otherwise you give the perception of only looking for self-efficating sources that compromises credibility.