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The great Aurangzeb but most controversial Mughal Emperor

Aurangzeb Alamgir is one of the most renowned rulers in Indian history. He was the sixth ruler of the Mughal Empire and though highly popular he was also amongst the most hated ruler in the line of Mughal rulers. He ruled from 1658 to 1707 and was the last great ruler in India before the British invaded the country. As per many historians, he shattered the country on social, political and cultural fronts.   

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Aurangzeb was a proud ruler and fought wars with no particular reasons in the Central and Southern India that weakened the Mughal Army and exhausted the resources. He is known to be a cruel king who murdered his own brother and gave a brutal death to his enemies.  

Many also consider Aurangzeb as an oppressor of Hindus and it is believed that all through his rule he rampaged against the Hindus and the religion as a whole. He was a strict Muslim and a conservative one. According to the historical stories, it is said that he tried to convert many Hindus into Islam but when this did not happen, he slaughtered them all. There are also myths or stories that he destroyed temples and Hindu cultural institutions, the reason why North India does not have tall temples like Southern India.

In 2015, a winning petition in Delhi to rename Aurangzeb Road summarized this loathed ruler as ‘one of the most tyrannical tormentor perpetrator of Intolerant Inhuman Barbaric crimes in India [sic]’. These titles are more in the name of politics than they would mean for real. Hence the point remains debatable.

Over the centuries all the political parties and even the British have used Aurangzeb as a convenient villain to lift up their own image. For example, The British spread false calumnies against him and other rulers because a cruel ruler like Aurangzeb made them appear to be a rather friendlier governing body.

Let us look at some facts about Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb to understand more about his positive and negative sides-

  • Aurangzeb’s real name is Abul Muzaffar Muhi-ud-Din Muhammad Aurangzeb.
  • He earned the title of ‘Bahadur’ after he won a fight with an elephant that had dashed through the Mughal Imperial camp. His father, the great Shah Jahan weighed him in gold and presented him with gifts. He was just 15 years of age at the time
  • He became the viceroy of the Deccan at the age of 18.
  • One of his most controversial moves was that he prohibited singing, dancing and even music in his empire, owing to his Islamic teachings. This proved that he was a very strict follower of Islam.
  • He was married only once unlike other Muslim rulers and had only one wife. As per the historical evidence he never indulged with any women outside marriage.
  • He was called Zinda Pir (living saint) as he was a devoted religious worshipper.

His life has been controversial owing to his strict Islamic beliefs and decisions made on the war front. He has been termed as cruel and brutal against the Hindus and the issue has gained enough political mileage also in recent years. History is History and facts and stories have their role to build his legacy. While many believe him to be a great ruler most evidences in the history suggest him to be a cruel one.

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