Madhav Golwalkar, considered the founder of the Hindu Nationalist movement in India, saw Islam and Muslims as enemies. He said: “Ever since that evil day, when Moslems first landed in Hindusthan, right up to the present moment, the Hindu Nation has been gallantly fighting to shake off the despoilers".
Professor Truschke systematically dismantles
violence against Indian Muslims today.
Truschke explains how the Hindu Nationalists have used colonial-era distortions of history and built a false narrative to justify their hatred and violence against India's Muslim minority. Here's an excerpt from her book:
"Such views have roots in colonial-era scholarship, where positing timeless Hindu-Muslim animosity embodied the British strategy of divide and conquer. Today, multiple websites claim to list Aurangzeb's "atrocities" against Hindus (typically playing fast and loose with the facts) and fuel communal fires. There are numerous gaping holes in the proposition that Aurangzeb razed temples because he hated Hindus, however. Most glaringly, Aurangzeb counted thousands of Hindu temples within his domain and yet destroyed, at most, few dozen.....A historically legitimate view of Aurangzeb must explain why he protected Hindu temples more often than he demolished them."
Misguided Pakistani View:
The false narrative about Aurangzeb has been accepted as fact not just by Islamophobic Hindu Nationalists in India who use it for their own purposes, but also by at least some of the Muslim intellectuals in present day Pakistan. Truschke singles out Pakistani playwright Shahid Nadeem to make this point in her book:
"Across the border in Pakistan, too, many endorse the vision of an evil Aurangzeb. As Shahid Nadeem, a Pakistani playwright, recently put it: " Seeds of partition were sown when Aurangzeb triumphed over [his brother] Dara Shikoh". Such far-fetched suggestions would be farcical, if so many did not endorse them."
Some British educated secular Indian leaders have also been misled colonial-era historical narrative of Muslim rule pushed by the British. For example, India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, thought Aurangzeb was too Muslim to rule India. Nehru described Aurangzeb as "a bigot and an austere puritan" and called him a dangerous throwback who "put back the clock". Here's a quote from Nehru used by Truschke to make her point:
"When Aurangzeb began to oppose [the syncretism of the earlier Mughal rulers] and suppress it and to function more as a Moslem than an Indian ruler, the Mughal empire began to break up".
The Real Aurangzeb:
Here's an excerpt from Truschke's article in Wire.in that explains how she sees "historical Aurangzeb":
"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."
Truschke is not alone in the above assessment of Aurangzeb. Marathi writer Nagnath S. Inamdar, the author of "Shahenshah: The Life of Aurangzeb", recalls visiting a prominent Hindu temple whose priest told him that it had come down in his family that not only had Aurangzeb left the temple intact, but also authorized a recurring annual donation for its maintenance. Further diminishing the idea of a puritanical figure, Inamdar also found old manuscripts with love sonnets composed by Aurangzeb.
Real History in Persian:
Truschke says the original history of the Mughal rule was written in Persian. However, it is the English translation of the original work that are often used to distort it. Here's what she says about it in her book:
"The bulk of Mughal histories are written in Persian, the official administrative language of the Mughal empire but a foreign tongue in India today. Out of necessity and ease, many historians disregard the original Persian text and rely instead on English translations. This approach narrows the the library of materials drastically, and many translations of the Mughal texts are of questionable quality, brimming with mistranslations and abridgments. Some of these changes conveniently served the agendas of the translators, especially colonial-era translations that tend to show Indo--Muslim kings at their worst so that the British would seem virtuous by comparison (foremost here is Elliot and Dowson's History of India as Told by Its Own Historians). Such materials are great for learning about British colonialism, but they present an inaccurate picture of Mughal India."
Comparison with Contemporaries:
On temple destructions, Truschke says that the "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”".
University of Texas Professor Donald Davis, a scholar of Hinduism, agrees that “there is no question that medieval Hindu kings frequently destroyed religious images as part of more general rampages”.
Invasions of various parts of India by Shivaji Bhonsle's Maratha forces were extremely bloody and destructive affairs. Maratha raiders led by Shivaji raped, pillaged and plundered the people, mainly Hindus, in the territories they captured. Some of these events are documented in Sir Jadunath Srakar's Shivaji and His Times. Shivaji Bhonsle was a contemporary and rival of Aurangzeb. He is now revered by Hindu Nationalists as a hero who allegedly protected Hindus from Aurangzeb in the second half of the 17th century.
Aurangzeb-Shivaji Conflict Not Religious:
Professor Truschke debunks the Hindu Nationalist portrayal of Shivaji-Aurangzeb conflict as being Hindu-Muslim war. She argues in her book that "the Mughal-Maratha conflict was shaped by craving for raw power that demanded strategic, shifting alliances. Shivaji allied with numerous Islamic states, including Bijapur, Golconda, and even the Mughals when it suited him (sometimes against Hindu powers in south India). Shivaji welcomed Muslims within his army; he had qazis (Muslim judges) on his payroll, and Muslims ranked among some of the top commanders".
She says that "Mughal alliances and the imperial army was similarly diverse, and Aurangzeb sent a Hindu, Jai Singh, to besiege Shivaji at Purandar."
Aurangzeb was neither a saint nor a villain; he was a man of his time who should be judged by the norms of his times and compared with his contemporaries. Colonial-era British historians deliberately distorted the history of Indian Muslim rule to vilify Muslim rulers as part of their policy to divide and conquer India, according to American history professor Audrey Truschke. Professor Truschke has systematically dismantled all the myths about India's Muslim rulers as hateful and bigoted tyrants who engaged in rape and pillage of Hindus and carried out widespread destruction of Hindu temples across India. Hindu Nationalists led by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi are using false history to justify their hatred and violence against Indian Muslims today.
Here's an interesting discussion of the legacy of the British Raj in India as seen by writer-diplomat Shashi Tharoor:
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